|photo by Matt Kremkau
HARRISON, NJ - Red Bulls come from behind with two goals by Cristian Casseres Jr. and a penalty kick by Lewis Morgan to defeat the New England Revolution, 2-1 at Red Bull Arena Saturday evening.
Last season, the New England Revolution led the league with 73 points, winning the Supporters Shield before getting knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual MLS Cup Champion New York City Football Club. But now find themselves in eighth place and in a fight for their playoff lives.
Last week, the Red Bulls were outclassed and quickly dispatched by the Philadelphia Union, 2-0. They were looking to rebound from that loss that will leave them without the services of midfielder Dru Yearwood for the remainder of the regular season. He picked up a second yellow card after kicking a ball into the stands and went into it attempting to apologize to the fans that were struck by the errant kick.
The last time these two squads met was back in April; the Red Bulls managed to squeak by on a 1-0 win thanks in part to a defected shot by Farrell deep in stoppage time at Gilette Stadium.
So, in this tense backdrop, with three matches remaining in the regular season, two longtime conference rivals clash to gain a solid foothold in the conference table, with the loser of this match possibly putting their playoff appearance in grave peril.
The Red Bulls were knocking on the door just two minutes after kickoff when forward Elias Manoel took the ball that was crossed by Cristian Cásseres Jr. and headed it from the center of the box but was easily saved by New England goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic at the top left corner of the net, nullifying the chance.
Elias Manoel found himself in the middle of another opportunity for the hosts in the thirteenth minute. He took a great cross provided by Daniel Edelman and headed the ball again from the center of the box. Still, this time, it missed harmlessly to the right.
The second half was more of the same until the 52nd minute when New England struck first, as Gustavo Bou left off a pass over to Tommy McNamara, and he swiftly punched the ball past Coronel to put the Revolution ahead.
But then the Red Bulls quickly answered six minutes later as Christian Casseres Jr. took a brilliant pass from Elias Manoel and easily slotted the ball past Petrovic to even the match at one apiece.
Red Bulls thought that they had taken the lead just minutes later when, from a set piece, Luquinhas took a ball that bounced in front of him and shot it in the net. But, under further review, the ball that bounced in front of him struck his hand, and thus the goal was waved off to the frustration of the home supporters.
However, VAR was involved once again, only this time, the decision went in the Red Bulls' direction after it was revealed that Lewis Morgan was fouled in the box by Tommy McNamara in the 75th minute. Morgan cooly converted the penalty kick shortly afterward to put the home side ahead.
The go-ahead goal was just what the Red Bulls needed to secure their fifth victory at home, to the relief of the home supporters and bring them a step closer of clinching their thirteenth consecutive playoff berth ahead of their massive match at Yankee Stadium next weekend in the Bronx.
THE BIG PICTURE:
As the team inches ever closer to securing a playoff spot, lost in all the drama of the evening's proceedings was the ability to respond quickly after being down a goal due to a mistake in the back.
Revolution midfielder Tommy McNamara was able to find space between Daniel Edelman and Sean Nealis due to miscommunication and of course, the occasional error of "ball watching", allowed McNamara to exploit the error and scored the first goal of the match.
The Red Bulls were able to take advantage of a desperate and dangerous New England side fighting to get back in the playoffs by poucing on some of their mistakes as well. Chief among them was allowing Cristian Casseres Jr and Elias Manuel set up a give go in the teeth of the Revolution defense for the equalizer and the dreadful foul in the box Lewis Morgan by McNamara, getting caught tugging his shirt and pulling him down.
Regardless, this win sets up a huge scenario where the Red Bulls can clinch a spot in the playoffs and get some measure of revenge against a listing NYCFC side next week.