Bio: I cover the Brooklyn Nets, the St. John's Red Storm men's basketball team, and the Brooklyn Cyclones. I support the Fort Hamilton Tigers football team, a 3-time city champion. I am a graduate of Fort Hamilton High School (2003) and Brooklyn College (2008).
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By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19 - NYC FC goalie Josh Saunders confers with defender Jason Hernandez after the game – Photo by Mike Lawrence
The New York City Football Club suffered a dispiriting 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls in the second installment of the New York Derby on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. The Red Bulls have now won both meetings against their inter-city rivals.
NYC FC Head Coach Jason Kreis was steamed about his team’s performance and was left with these thoughts on this team, “From my point of view, it’s the first time I felt like I don’t think we got a real honest effort out of all our players.”
Kreis continued, “I guess my biggest fear coming into this game was that we had gone three games on a winning streak and four games unbeaten and I think the players started to feel as if they had made it a little bit. You see this happen in our league all the time. For me, I think it comes down to a little bit of attitude, a little bit of complacency and comfort thinking that the game is easier than it is. In some ways, they say in this game, sometimes you can score too early, I think tonight we scored too early, it came too easy. That gave our guys that extra comfort and complacency that we can’t have.”
NYC FC entered this game on a three-game winning streak, as Kreis mentioned above, and there was an electricity in the crowd with an anticipation that they could get a statement win over their inter-city rivals. The Stadium was sold out, with 48,047 fans on hand, most of which were in the blue of NYC FC. Andrea Pirlo, who it is pretty much assumed will be joining the club, was in attendance, and that got the crowd going before the game. Pirlo took in the game from a luxury box with Frank Lampard, and it was announced repeatedly before the game that he will be in action when NYC FC returns to Yankee Stadium to face Toronto FC on July 12th.
They came out strong, and wasted no time putting pressure on the Red Bulls net. David Villa earned a corner kick in the 6th minute. After a give-and-go on the left side of the field, he fired a pass across the box to Andrew Jacobson, who lofted one into the box to Mix Diskerud, who headed it to Tommy McNamara, who drilled it to make it 1-0 NYC FC.
McNamara said of the beginning of the game, “We came out well. That’s how you want to start games. And it was the best case scenario. You want to score in the first 5-10 minutes. After that, we had a few moments in the first half where we had really good looks on goal. It was a good way to start the match, but could have been a better ending.”
In the 17th minute, NYC FC defender Chris Wingert sprung in on the right side for a great chance right in front of the net and he could not corral the ball and it rolled wide. A minute later, Wingert got tangled up with Red Bulls forward Anatole Abang and both hit the ground, with Abang landing on Wingert’s leg.
Wingert stayed in, but was limping around and eventually was pulled in the 24th minute. Jeb Brovsky came in for him, and after being on the field for two Red Bulls goals, was pulled himself in the 70th minute. It is rare to see a guy subbed into a game and pulled out later on.
Kreis said of Wingert’s injury effecting the defense, “I do think that that affects the game. I’m a guy that never likes to take defenders out of matches, and having to make a substitution so early in that one it was really difficult for us. So I think that cohesion dropped off a bit from there.”
NYC FC kept the heat on the Red Bulls’ net, but could never break through for that second goal. Their frustration built as halftime neared, as Villa got into it with Red Bulls goalie Luis Robles on a challenge at the top of the crease. Each got yellow cards for “unsporting behaviour.”
Kreis said of what getting a second goal would have done for the team, “If we had scored that second goal I think we would have had a very different game and their confidence would have risen from there.”
New York City FC Defender Shay Facey said of how scoring a second goal would’ve changed the match, “We definitely had a very good chance with David [Villa] at the end of the first half. If that goes in, the then game opens completely up. Then they would have to come chasing the game and gaps would start opening up for us. Unfortunately, we lost our way a bit in the second half and they capitalized on the loss of our momentum and gained some in their favor.”
In the second half, the Red Bulls came out firing, with Bradley Wright-Phillips tying the game in the 47th minute, and a short time later, Chris Duvall giving them a 2-1 lead in the 52nd minute. The Red Bulls kept the pressure going and Matt Miazga got past the NYC defense and headed one in on the right side in the 73rd minute to make it 3-1.
All three goals were set up by Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan, and he was arguably the Red Bulls’ most valuable player because of that. Kreis said of Kljestan, “Sacha’s an excellent player. He was floating into spaces where he’s very dangerous. He was causing our defense all kinds of fits about how to sort out their numbers and keep guys in the right spots.”
The Red Bulls shut down David Villa and Mix Diskerud in the second half, and that was the formula they used to win their first meeting on May 10th. The only NYC FC player that got any openings was Kwadwo Poku, their sparkplug off the bench.
Diskerud on what changed in the second half, “I think that a lot of things could have been done better. I’m not going to sit back and analyze everything right now, but obviously in a game like this, there a lot of things that could be improved.”
Kreis said of any tactical mistakes they made in the second half, “No, I think the second half was a continuation of the end of the first half, to be honest. I thought that we did a real nice job how we started the game, came out for 25, 30 minutes, was real good, then the rest was real poor. We got away from everything we’ve been trying to do for several weeks and months, and it was an effort that was really disappointing.”
Kreis said of the support of the fans this season, “Absolutely remarkable, it’s been unbelievable. All of us, as participants in this type of match, and participants in this league right now, we can be incredibly thankful that the fans have continued to come out here and support us so loudly and so proudly. I keep saying, and I hope that the fans believe me, that we’re going to give back, it’s only a matter of time, but we’re going to keep giving back. Anytime we play at home, it’s a time to impress fans, to win fans over, to pay back the fans that have been there from the beginning.”
New York City FC midfielder Mix Diskerud said of the support the fans have given, “It’s been incredible this whole week. I had so many fans that were reaching out about this game and supporting us. It really feels good when we have so many people standing behind us and chanting.”
Mix said of Frank Lampard joining the team, “Obviously, it’s big for us. He’s a legendary player and he will add a lot to the Club. I’m definitely excited to train with him and I’m sure I can learn a lot from him.”
NYC FC midfielder Ned Grabavoy said of what changed in the second half, “We came out in the second half and just didn’t play as well. We just need to get back to doing the things that had made us successful during the past few matches.”
McNamara said of the winning streak being snapped, “It’s disappointing. Any game you lose is disappointing. A lot of fans came out to support. We are very thankful for that and grateful for them for how they supported us.”
Facey said of losing the match in front of the home crowd, “It’s a disappointment for the fans and everybody at the Club, but we’ve been through a lot of difficult times this season. We will bounce back.”
Facey said of whether the Club approached the derby as a regular game, “It’s a big game and we tried to put on a show. We work hard every single week. We come out here to win, especially at home in front of all of our fantastic fans.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19 (Red Bulls’ Matt Miazga celebrating his goal – Photo by Mike Lawrence)
The New York Red Bulls won the second installment of the New York Derby on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, as they beat the New York City Football Club 3-1. It was a sellout crowd of 48,047, with a strong contingent of Red Bulls’ supporters in the upper deck that the team saluted after the game.
The Red Bulls won the first meeting between the clubs on May 10th at Red Bull Arena 2-1. That was the Red Bulls’ last victory until this past Wednesday, when they broke a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. They improve their record to 6-5-5, with 23 points on the season.
NYC FC started off strong, with Tommy McNamara breaking through for a goal developed off a David Villa corner kick in the 6th minute.
The Red Bulls kept it there, with the help of great defense and the play of goaltender Luis Robles, who made a point-blank save on a Villa chance in the 34th minute. Robles got into it with Villa in the 41st minute when they were going for a ball at the edge of the box. Robles went up to catch it while Villa tried to head it. Robles caught it, and Villa stuck his feet out getting in the way of Robles trying to land. Both players shoved each other and exchanged words and each received yellow cards for “unsporting behaviour.”
The Red Bulls came out firing in the second half. In the 47th minute, Sacha Kljestan came down the left side and found Bradley Wright-Phillips coming down the center of the field and he buried it to tie the game at 1.
Five minutes later, in the 52nd, Kljestan had a free kick from the right side about ten feet from the box. He lofted it into the right side of the box to Mike Grella, who got it to Anatole Abang, who hjeaded it to Chris Duvall, who slipped in on the right side and he slammed it in to give the the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead. The four players did their parts so perfectly in this, it was a thing of beauty.
The Red Bulls were not done, as Kemar Lawrence had a point-blank chance in the 54th minute that NYC FC goalie Josh Saunders made an incredible save on, and Wright-Phillips had a great chance in the 65th that Saunders got his fingertips in, and it still was just wide.
In the 73rd minute, Kljestan had another free kick to the right of the box. He floated it to the left post and Matt Miazga snuck past five NYC FC players and headed it in from three feet out to make it 3-1.
This was the third goal started by Sacha Kjelstan, and that made him arguably the player of the match even though he didn’t score in the game.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of Klejstan’s performance tonight, “After (last game’s) red card, he took on a lot of responsibility and he felt like he let the Club down. I told him that these things happen and that he’s going to have plenty of time to make it up to everybody. I think tonight, he wanted to make sure in a derby match that he’s going to step on the field and make a big imprint and I think he did. He was good on set pieces too, so we may have to make a change and have him as the one over the ball. Overall, he’s been an important guy from day one. His mentality and what he’s brought to the group – how he trains and how he plays; the whole bit. It was good to see him have a good game.”
Kljestan said of the first half and how they adjusted and took over, “The first half we started really slow. I think they came with a lot of energy. We weren’t prepared. Then after 15 or 20 minutes, we had the rest of the game. We were creating chances and in the end we had a lot of confidence we would win the game.”
Marsch said of overcoming the 1-0 deficit in the first half, “We talked a lot, especially in the four game losing stretch, learning about ourselves, growing as individuals and as a team and a lot of it has been… whatever you want to call it, a competitive edge, a killer instinct, the sense of and belief that when the times are toughest that we were going to respond. When we were down 1-0, I felt like we systematically went about the game knowing that it was going to come. We came out in the second half and right away we had the lead and pushed it from there. I’m proud of the guys tonight and it showed a lot of character.
Marsch said of Chris Duvall and Matt Miazga’s development, “The starting point is that we’ve invested in young players. Chris has had a very good year for us. It’s just a couple of moments one v. one defensively he’s let a guy get a little bit of room on him and then maybe they get a shot or a cross that has led to a goal. I’ve told him often as a defender you’re judged by how many mistakes that lead to goals. If he can clean that up, all the other good things that he does for us would show up more. I thought tonight whenever Villa came into space he helped deal with that really well. He was competitive. He was hard to play against. He was very active. He was good coming forward out on the wing and then he sniffed out a goal.
“I’ve liked Matt from watching him last year. A major goal of mine was to help him establish himself within our group. He’s talented man. He’s got a lot of ability and now it’s turning a young man into a man, into a pro, into a real center back. He’s making big strides this year. We know he’s only going to get better from here,” said Marsch.
Red Bulls midfielder and Captain Dax McCarty said of tonight’s match, “Tonight’s a good feeling. Unbelievable atmosphere, credit to the NYCFC fans and obviously our fans for making it very enjoyable. Sometimes it’s not easy to watch games on this field and I think you saw from the get go it was hectic, it was not ideal going down early. I thought once the game went on a little bit, 20 minutes in we started to settle down, we started to play better and then the second half we knew we were going to come out, we just needed an early one and what a finish from Brad, so it was a great second half, some of the best stuff we’ve played all season. Honestly, we scored three, it could’ve been five. They were gassed, we had energy, we had life, great performance in the second half and I’m just glad we got a win for our fans.”
McCarty said of Miazga, “He’s got confidence and so that’s the one thing a young guy needs. I told Matt he was going to score off of a set-piece coming up soon and it’s funny. We felt like we could take advantage of NYCFC on set-pieces and in the first half they kind of did a lot of things that confused us and we weren’t ready for it. They were on top of the game in that way and got a little bit better and they got their goal. In the second half, obviously two set-piece goals that were well worked. Matt, he’s a beast and he has to win his battles. If he starts to play more physical, if he starts to realize once he wins his physical battles, that’s half the game for him. You know he’s going to go very far in this league and hopefully in other leagues. He’s been great since he’s come back and obviously we need that depth with [Ronald] Zubar coming out.”
McCarty said of what the general message was at half time, “Keep going. We were going in the right direction. I think the game, we started a little bit nervous. Obviously in a big game that always tends to be the case, but we felt the game tilting in our favor the last 15, 20 minutes of the first half, we knew that we were going to be on top of the game in the second half so the message was keep going. Don’t give up another goal and let’s try to get an early one. We knew that our fitness was very good and that we were going to be able to run at them and continue to put them under pressure so I felt like we were able to get our deserved rewards with the goals and like I said defensively, I think Luis [Robles] was called on to make one or two saves, but we were pretty solid. Second half was just a great performance all around.”
On Sacha Kljestan’s performance, McCarty said, “Sacha was hungry, Sacha was motivated. He felt like he let the team down against Vancouver. He made a mistake and he apologized to us for it and we forgave him and he’s been working so hard in training to come back and make a difference. Credit to him, he found so many dangerous spots in the second half, he was a little bit gassed there at the end, but he created so many chances for us today. Obviously the cross on Bradley’s goal was tremendous and he probably could’ve had two or three more assists. He had another one he played Bradley through, the keeper made an unbelievable save on. Sacha’s just rounding into form and we need him. We need him to be our brain. We need him to make plays for us because that’s what we brought him in for so he’s been steadily getting better every game and hopefully this is a game where his confidence just goes through the roof and that he can continue this form.”
Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga on his first experience playing at Yankee Stadium: “It was awesome. It was a good experience. We were playing against our rival in a packed house. It was unbelievable. It was overall a great experience.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The New York Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick at the NBA Draft on Thursday night at Barclays Center, bringing on a cascade of boos from their fans.
Porzingis, a 6’11”, 220-pound forward, hails from Latvia, but he played professionally in Spain. This past season, he played for Cajasol Seville, and averaged 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in 38 games in league play. In ULEB Eurocup action, he played in 16 games and averaged 11.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Porzingis is only the second player from Latvia to be chosen in an NBA Draft. The other two were Andris Biedrins, who was drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the 11th overall pick in 2004, and Gundars Vetra, who played one season for the Timberwolves, 1992-93.
Porzingis said on Thursday night, “What can I say? You see this for me (holding up a Knicks jersey with “Porzingis”)? For me it’s a dream come true to play for the Knicks. I wanted to see myself in this situation. I’ve been visualizing it. Now it’s here, and I can’t wait to be a part of this organization and get to work.”
Here is the rest of his session with the New York media:
Q. Kris, big market here in New York. They clearly need a franchise‑type guy. Do you think you can be that type of player here?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: Thank you. I think so. I think I have enough talent to be that special player, you know, who can help the franchise get better results. I want to be that guy. I want to be a part of this special organization, and I’m looking forward to it.
Q. What was your reaction to hearing the fans’ boos? They didn’t seem happy with the pick.
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I mean, a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me, but I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans.
There’s nothing I can do. I was happy about it. I want to be a part of this organization, and I know the fans are a little harsh sometimes, but that’s how it is here in New York, and I’m ready for it.
Q. In what ways do you think your game fits with Carmelo Anthony’s?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I think Carmelo is a great player. He makes players around him better. Whatever theme, whatever Carmelo wants me to do, I will do that out on the court just to prove that I’m worthy enough to be on the court with him, starting with the dirty jobs; just getting rebounds, getting shots, getting blocks and just running the court. We will have time to practice with each other and hopefully I will be able to fit in with Carmelo.
Q. Did any other teams look at you? And if so, do you think you could be traded to one of those teams?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I’m not sure about that. Obviously always there’s a chance you get drafted, you get traded after you get drafted. But for me, that’s not my job really. That’s what my agent does. I really don’t have much information.
Q. What are you looking forward most playing here in New York?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: Thank you. Just being here in New York, just the fans, Madison Square Garden, such a historic place. For me it’s an honor to be a part of this organization, and I just can’t wait to let the season start and just get to work.
Q. When you worked for the Knicks, did they specifically go over aspects of the triangle offense? And how do you think you could fit into that system?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: We did a little bit, but I still have a lot of learning to do. I know the basics of triangle offense. I’m not ready to be on the court yet, knowing all the little details about triangle offense, but for me I don’t think it’ll be a problem to adjust to that offense. I think it’s a good offense; you just move a lot and there’s always spacing. So I’m looking forward to learning that offense.
Q. I’m curious to know since you come from a Baltic state what your favorite player from your native country is.
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: When Andris Biedrins was still playing, he was my favorite player. He had a great career‑‑ for a few years he had a great career. He was playing high level basketball and he was a guy I looked up to, so hopefully now I can be that guy in Latvia for kids to look up to.
Q. The Knicks are coming off their worst season in franchise history, 17 wins. How can a Kristaps Porzingis turn the Knicks around?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: It’s hard to say for me right now. You know, I didn’t know where I was going to be, so I haven’t really thought about how I can impact the team since the first moment. But obviously I will be there, do my job, first, play as hard as possible. I heard New York fans and people in New York are hard‑working fans, so they want to see players work hard on the court. That’s the first thing I’ve got to do. As a young guy I’ve got to bring energy, and hopefully we can turn this around.
Q. Kristaps, the sound bites will be about the booing, etcetera, but do you think it’s a disadvantage European players have over their American college player counterparts because we don’t know as much about European player?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: Yeah, I think American fans, they know more college guys than guys overseas. But my agent did a great job of putting my name out there in the news and having a lot of interviews and media stuff, so the people in New York and all over America can get to know me better. I think more and more fans are getting to know me better now.
Q. Can you describe what your conversation with Phil Jackson was like at the workout, and what were the one or two things he said to you that struck you as most interesting or profound?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: Can you repeat that, please?
Q. What was your conversation like with Phil Jackson at the workout and what were some of the things he told you that you remembered that struck you as interesting?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I mean, what we talked about was a little bit of triangle offense, how it works. He just wanted to explain it to me a little bit. He asked me questions about basketball. He just wanted to know my IQ level of basketball, and that was basically it. It was a good conversation.
I can tell Phil is such a legendary guy, he does everything. It’s obviously a blessing to be able to play for him and just be in his team.
Q. Knowing the importance of this pick, how does it feel to get this kind of vote of confidence from Phil Jackson?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: It’s crazy, you know, for me, just playing in New York. Phil Jackson is a known hero. First I’ll make sure I do my work, and he’ll make sure he puts me in a position where I can succeed. Really looking forward to it, and I’m just very happy to be here in New York.
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19 Photo by @LolitaLens
It wouldn’t be a typical draft night for the Brooklyn Nets unless General Manager Billy King made a big trade. This may not rise to the level of what he did two years ago when he made the blockbuster deal with the Boston Celtics, but it involved a player drafted on that night.
The Nets traded Mason Plumlee and the draft rights to guard/forward Pat Connaughton, to the Portland Trail Blazers for the draft rights to forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and veteran guard Steve Blake.
King said of the trade, “We are very excited to add Rondae to our roster. He is the type of athletic wing we were looking for, and we felt he was the best defensive player in the draft.”
King said of Plumlee, “I also wanted to thank Mason for his time with the Nets and wish him the best with his new team. Mason worked extremely hard from the first time he stepped on the court in training camp last year, and I am sure he will have a long and successful career.”
Plumlee was chosen with the 22nd pick in the 2013 Draft out of Duke. He played in 152 games, including 67 starts, and he posted averages of 8.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per game. Plumlee earned All-Rookie First Team honors in 2014. He mostly came off the bench in his rookie season, 2013-14, but made his mark in the staring lineup in March when the Nets made their playoff push.
Heading into his sophomore season, Plumlee was expected to become the primary backup center after the departure of Andray Blatche. Instead, Head Coach Lionel Hollins barely played Plumlee in the first six weeks, opting to go with journeyman Jerome Jordan instead. In December, Plumlee was put into the starting lineup when Brook Lopez suffered an injury and he excelled. He stayed in the starting lineup until late February when it became apparent that Lopez was back to his old self, pouring in 20 points and 10 rebounds a night no matter the opponent, whereas Plumlee was useless against tough competition. Plumlee saw less and less time as the season came to a close, barely playing at all in the series against the Hawks.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a 6’8”, 220-pound forward, was selected with the 23rd pick by the Trail Blazers before being dealt to the Nets. He played two seasons at Arizona and helped lead the Wildcats to two Elite Eight appearances and a 66-9 regular season record. As a freshman, Hollis-Jefferson averaged 9.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 blocks in 25.3 minutes per game in 38 games, six of which were starts, en route to Pac 12 All-Freshman Team honors. In his second and final season at Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson posted averages of 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.8 blocks in 28.7 minutes per game in 38 games, including 25 starts. He was named to the All-Pac 12 First Team and garnered Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honors.
Steve Blake, 6’3”, 172-pound point guard, is a 12-year veteran who has appeared in 812 career games, with 345 starts, with Washington, Portland, Milwaukee, Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State. He holds career averages of 6.7 points and 4.0 assists. Last season in Portland, Blake recorded averages of 4.3 points and 3.6 assists in 18.9 minutes per game in 81 games off the Trail Blazers’ bench.
Hollis-Jefferson addressed the media after he was drafted by Portland, and he said, “I’m really excited to be here. I’m looking forward to this press conference, looking forward to being in Portland. It’s a great experience to be here. It’s a great experience to be drafted. I’m a little nervous at first, all the names called before me, but I’m just happy to be here, and God has a plan for everyone, and I believe this is in my plan.”
He brought 40 kids up from his hometown of Chester, PA, for the Draft and he said of how that all came about, “Well, I’m a big community guy and I wanted my people where I’m from, the tri‑state area, to experience it and see what it was like to be a part of that. I talked to my family and my people, the close ones that I’m closest to about bringing some kids up to the Draft and let them get that experience and see how it is, and they were all for it. I talked to my agency, and it just happened to work out like that. We had the kids do essays about their life goals and their aspirations and what they want to be, and it turned out well. 100‑some kids filled out the essay; 40 of them won, and it was great.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The Nets drafted Bronx native Chris McCullough out of Syracuse University with the 29th pick in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday night at Barclays Center.
McCullough, a 6’9”, 200-pound forward, played one season at Syracuse. He averaged 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.7 steals in 28.1 minutes per game through 16 games in his lone season with the Orange.
McCullough said of being drafted by the Nets, “Just a good feeling to finally hear my name get called and walk on the stage. It’s my hometown. It’s a good feeling…It’s amazing. I am from New York City. I’m from the Bronx. So being called to play for the Brooklyn Nets is a big thing for me to have that opportunity, so I’m blessed for that.”
McCullough was asked if he watched the Nets at all last year, and he said, “I watched them every time they play.”
He then was asked what his impressions were of the Nets, and he gave an interesting answer considering the player he mentioned was traded within the hour, and he said, “Honestly I watched one person; I watched (Mason) Plumlee because he plays the same position. So I see exactly what he did and try to have my game just like him.”
McCullough spoke of his faMily being involved with basketball, saying, “Yeah, my whole family played basketball. I come from a basketball family. My father went to Murray State. Both my uncles played at Pitt.”
On his progress recovering from an ACL injury and if he can play next season, McCullough said, “I should be able to play by November. I’m not going to rush it. I’m just waiting my time, that’s it.
On how frustrating the injury was and if there ever was a chance that he was going to return to Syracuse and maybe try to improve your draft ranking, McCullough said, “It was very frustrating at first, maybe the first week, week and a half. After that I got over it pretty fast. I had to come back stronger, be stronger, overall game got even better. So that’s what I focused on doing.”
McCullough said of what he feels like the best part of his game is and what he has to work on at the next level, “Best part of my game is rebounding, playing defense. And I just want to work on my overall game, my body, and be the best player I can be.”
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins spoke with McCullough for a little bit after he was drafted. McCullough said of what Hollins said to him, “The main thing that stuck out to me was in the interview process, because I couldn’t play in the Combine. So nobody could see me play. So my interview was pretty good, he said, and that’s what got them to pick me.”
On what he can bring to the Nets when he is healthy enough to play full‑time, he said, “Rebounding, a person who’s going to play defense, play real hard and just run the floor and play my game.”
McCullough said of the interview process with Hollins and what was asked of him and what he said that maybe impressed them so much, “I don’t know, I think we just connected. Once we got in the room together we connected. He gave me life lessons, so basically that’s the main thing right there.”
He wasn’t able to work out during the off‑season like other individuals, and he said of how he feels that he got to this point without working out with these teams, “I thought that I interviewed pretty well with every time. Just being around the Combine, watching them play basketball, just trying to learn a lot of things and try and pick out little things from everybody’s game.”
McCullough said of where he is in the rehab process in terms of running and jumping, “Right now I’m exactly four and a half months out. I just started running three weeks ago and I started jumping maybe three weeks ago. So it’s coming along pretty good.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19 – Photo of the Red Bulls saluting their fans by Mike Lawrence
The Red Bulls got their first win in six weeks, as they beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night.
The Red Bulls broke a five-game winless streak, the last four of which were losses, and improved their record to an easy-to-remember 5-5-5, with 20 points on the season. Ironically, their last win came on May 10th against New York City FC, whom they match up with this Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of building momentum heading into matchup with NYC FC, “I think it’s hugely important. I think mentally, it’s been a test, and I don’t think we’ve been fazed too much by it, but we’ve been tested now so hopefully we are now through that stretch and we’ve gathered ourselves and our confidence and we’re getting our guys back and physically ready to go so it’s potential that Sunday will be a chance to put our legitimate first choice lineup out on the field, and if we do that, then we’re going to go after it, and in a big game, feel like we’re ready to go, so hugely important to get the result tonight.”
On the change in the team since first matchup with NYC FC, Marsch said, “Well that was our last win so it feels like an eternity ago, but I think what we learned about ourselves in the past month in a half is that we need to continue to grow. Our leaders need to continue to grow and push themselves, the understanding of what a true team mentality is needed to grow, and in this stretch where we’ve lost some games, we’ve been able to uncover little things about ourselves that are going to be more important to ourselves going forward. I’ve said from the beginning that the results haven’t been hugely important as much as I want to continue the progress of our team, and I think we’re actually going to benefit from that four game losing streak because it forced us to look hard at ourselves-each individual and as a group in what we’re doing and where we’re going, both soccer wise and as a group. I feel like we’re going to use that as good lessons for that and we’ll move forward as a group.”
The Red Bulls came out with a definite urgency in this one against Real Salt Lake, and it didn’t take them long to break through. Four minutes in, Kemar Lawrence came down the left side, fed it across to Sean Davis, who was getting the rare start, at the top of the crease, and Davis dropped it off to mike Grella, who came down the right side and tipped it in from about five feet out to make it 1-0 Red Bulls.
Grella said of how important it was to get that first goal and set the tone, “Absolutely, they were coming from a long trip they had just played on Sunday I think it was. It was good to jump all over them high press we won a lot of balls up there (end) and got the goal right away. I was really surprised we didn’t kick on from there. It just seemed like it (the ball) didn’t want to go in. We could have been a little sharper, but it was very important to get the early one (goal).”
Sean Davis said of his mindset on the goal, “Damien (Perrinelle) clips a ball in, it gets blocked, but then Brad finds Kemar through, Kemar makes a great run forward, I find myself in the box which is what I have to do in that role, get in the box and try to be dangerous, I let it come across my body, I don’t hit it completely right but I try to get it back to the back post and luckily Grella was there to clean up.”
The Red Bulls kept the heat on, but the Real Salt Lake defense was like a brick wall at the top of the box, as evidenced by their six blocked shots in the first half, out of 12 shots overall by the Red Bulls.
Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles made a big save on a Joao Plata shot in the 28th minute and leaped to grab a long shot in the 40th minute. After the save in the 40th, Robles could sense that RSL was caught and he fired it up to the center line to Felipe, and it took a big bounce into RSL territory. As it settled down, Felipe and RSL midfielder Javier Morales got tangled up, and both hit the deck. At first, no call was made by the referee and the Red Bulls went ballistic, feeling that Morales took him down. After a minute of deliberating, the referee pulled out a card: it was a Red card for Morales.
This was a tough call, as both players were going for the ball, and neither had their balance when contact was made. It is hard to justify a straight red card on this play, as it was a 50-50. A card could have easily gone to the Red Bulls player, or at the least a yellow card to Morales. Red cards also are given if it’s an accumulation of tough plays, and that was not the case here, as the game was very clean to this moment.
Morales was asked about it afterwards, and he said, “It was weird because the referee didn’t call even a foul. He looked to the second official, he said play on and I think it was the fourth [official]. He was far away, but I don’t know maybe he has a good view and I think he said it was a red card. I tried to play the ball, I miss it, I got Felipe, but I thought Tony Beltran was there right next to me. I was like I don’t know, like 40-yards from the goal, but the weird thing for me was that the referee was right next to me and he didn’t even call [a] foul so a little frustrated about that and I don’t know why I have to say. I can say anything. They give me a red card and I have one yellow card in 10 games. I always try to play good soccer and that happens.”
In the second half, in the 55th minute, RSL’s Demar Phillips and Red Bull Connor Lade were going for a ball near midfield. Phillips went in “studs up,” as the Brits called it, and spiked Lade at the top of his sock below the knee. Phillips was given a red card and sent off, giving the Red Bulls an incredible 11-on-9 two-man advantage.
The Red Bulls poured in 11 shots, and controlled possession for 71.2 percent in the second half. Anatole Abang had a couple of nice chances in the 62nd minute and Mike Grella was all over the place, but the Red Bulls could not cash in.
The Red Bulls finished with 23 shots, and Marsch spoke of there possibly being concern about not finishing chances, “It was a weird night. There was obviously a few different opportunities to score goals and put it away but right now I’m not concerned with that. Right now I’m happy to have three points and get out of a four game skid and look forward to the game on Sunday.”
Marsch said of what he’s seen from Mike Grella, particularly on the right side tonight, “I spoke with Mike, maybe, a month ago, and there’s been criticism about Mike, right? Publically, in the media, and I just said to him that first of all, within the team, he’s established himself and the guys believe in him and having him on the field, everybody knows he’s been a big piece for us. And then, when you’re in this business, especially in this day in age, people are going to say a lot of things. I learned that from day one being with this organization. But it’s important to believe in yourself, have confidence in who you are and what you’re about, and in tough moments don’t let things phase you, don’t be sidetracked by anything and be strong. I think he took that the right way and ran with it and the confidence that he’s had over the last month has grown and grown and grown. Even in this tough moment for the team with results, I think that Mike has been one of the guys that’s been reliable and has gotten better. So that’s been good to see and we’re counting on him moving forward. The other part about moving him to the right, he’s versatile enough that we know we can play him in any of the top four spots. We felt that moving him to the right allowed Bradley to go to the left where he’s more comfortable; we may also move him back to the left. We think that with Sal (Zizzo), Dane (Richards), Mike (Grella), and Lloyd (Sam) even, there’s versatility with them playing on either side and it’s about trying to look at matchups and see how we can take advantage of that.”
Marsch said of the young lineup he put out there, featuring Sean Davis and Anatole Abang starting, and Manolo Sanchez and Sal Zizzo coming off the bench, “I thought that we were on top of the game from the start, getting an early goal always helps. Overall, I thought that we handled the game pretty well. First half we could have pressed at certain moments, not just pressed but really shifted and moved together a little quicker and allow fewer gaps in our team, but they weren’t really ever able to threaten us except for maybe some set pieces and putting some balls in that way. I thought overall the team handled themselves well. I don’t know all the statistics but that’s probably one of the youngest teams that Red Bull has put on the field and we talked a lot about establishing things with young guys here, trusting young guys, helping them mature, grow, and get better, and in an important moment we put a lot of young guys on the field tonight and they came through for us so that was, I think, an important moment for the club to, ‘a’, get out of the losing streak, and ‘b,’ see a bunch of young guys help us do it.”
By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor - @JESchott19
The Brooklyn Cyclones opened the season with a weekend series against their rivals, the Staten Island Yankees.
Cyclones Manager Tom Gamboa is entering his second season at the helm. Speaking at Media Day, he said of what he was looking forward to as the season begins, “I’m looking forward to watching them all play. They’ve been, except for three, we got three drafted players that have just been with us for the three days we’ve been here, but the rest guys have put in three months down in Florida under the hot sun down there, and it’s been getting humid the last six weeks, so they’re chomping at the bit. In Florida, you play at noon everyday in front of just a few girlfriends. Now, to get a chance to play a real season under the lights in front of the great fans here in Brooklyn, I’m excited for the kids because it’s all about them, and see if the fruits of their hard labor in Florida hopefully will pay off here in this season about to commence.”
Gamboa said of what he wants to see from the Cyclones as the season begins, “The goal now is for them to start gelling as a unit, get to know their teammates, build confidence with each other. I’ll do what I can to bring them together as a unit, and usually, that takes about ten or 12 ballgames. A couple weeks from now, we should have, as I told the guys in a meeting today, we may have some different lineups, everybody is going to get a chance to play, the pitchers won’t really have defined roles specifically, but their performance in the first ten to 15 games will make it very easy for me to see what pretty much our everyday lineup should be and what roles the pitchers should have in the bullpen.”
The series began in Staten Island on Friday night, and the Cyclones won it, 3-2, in 12 innings on a Michael Bernal RBI single.
The next night was the Cyclones home opener, and the Yankees spoiled the party as they won 8-3. Cyclones starter Gaby Almonte gave up 8 runs, 6 earned, on 8 hits in five innings. The Yankees were led by Jhalan Jackson, who went 2-for-4 with 4 RBIs, with a double and a home run.
On Sunday night, the Cyclones won the rubber game of the series, 6-4, led by Zach Mathieu and Jeff Diehl, who had 2 RBIs apiece. Michael Gibbons got the win, as he went 5 2/3 innings, and allowed 2 runs, 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 6.
Enjoy these Opening Day images from BrooklynFans.com Photographer Lolita B. @LolitaLens: