Man of the Match: Sporting Kansas City’s Kei Kamara was easily the most active among the home team’s trio of forwards. No one asked more questions of New York’s back line. And his early goal was all SKC could manage, never mind enjoying more possession and far more time in the opposition final third.
Packaged for take-away:
- Interesting choice from New York manager Hans Backe, who needed to find a left back after Roy Miller’s bad night from a week ago. Rather than go with Heath Pearce (left back is probably his best spot), the New York manager moved Wilman Conde, a natural center back, out there. The idea was probably about getting a physical defender on the left to deal with Kei Kamara, who usually lines up on the right for Sporting Kansas City.
- Conde had never played a match at left back before last night.
- The Red Bulls shifted their midfield, too. Dax McCarty and Teemu Tainio played side-by-side in a 4-2-3-1, with Tim Cahill ahead of them.
- For the home team, Graham Zusi was up higher on the field, stationed as a wing rather than as an advanced midfielder in SKC’s 4-3-3. He had a fairly quiet match.
- Kamara’s early goal was all about Teal Bunbury making something happen, and about New York’s reconfigured back line and its inability to deal with the trouble. But there was also some home team serendipity at the end. Because Kamara vs. Connor Lade on a header might be the mismatch of MLS. Kamara, at 6-3 and 190 pounds, looks like an NFL free safety. Lade is listed at 5-7.
- SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was standing at his six as Sebastien Le Toux’s took a long free kick. That ball dropped … right about where Nielsen was standing. Except he had decided to retreat into a shot-stopping position. The visitor’s goal was squarely on the SKC ‘keeper.
- Roger Espinoza was easily the home team’s most disruptive force in midfield. That man has an awfully big engine.
- He was a major part of the reason the Red Bulls never established a link between their two holding midfielders and attacking midfielder Cahill.
- There were plenty of reasons why New York’s attack was completely ineffective. Start with Thierry Henry’s absence, of course. The inability to deal with SKC’s relentless pressure is another. And then the lineup selections …
- Le Toux just doesn’t understand how to play the wide spots. Even if he did, New York didn’t have enough possession to get the ball to him. There was never enough possession to get either outside back into the attack. Final result: the visitors’ attack was quite narrow and was never really going anywhere.
- If there is a goalkeeping “six second” call out there this year, it’s going to be called on Bill Gaudette. That’s not likely, of course. But if it happens, my money is on him.