(A large American flag was unfurled at Red Bull Arena before Saturday night’s game – Photo by Jason Schott)
The Red Bulls won their second straight on Saturday night, as they scored twice in the second half to outlast the New England Revolution, 2-1.
This game had a playoff atmosphere, as the Revolution had over 1,000 of their fans in the upper level, and their chanting was dueling with the Red Bulls super fan section in the opposite end.
Just five minutes in, New England had a golden opportunity when Kelyn Rowe fired one off Robles’ finger tips and then the crossbar.
Shortly after that, in the ninth minute, New England was awarded a penalty kick after Damien Perrinelle stuck his legs out and took down Diego Fagundez in the box.
Lee Nguyen took the penalty kick and scored to make it 1-0.
It stayed that way until halftime, and it didn’t take long for the Red Bulls to strike in the second half.
In the 47th minute, Kemar Lawrence came down the left side and fired one into the box. New England’s goalkeeper Cody Cropper could not handle it, and Bradley Wright-Phillips pounced and buried it to tie it up at 1.
It was Wright-Phillips’ sixth of the season, and 75th career regular season goal, continuing to build on his Red Bulls record.
In the 74th minute, Lawrence was at it again, and found Daniel Royer in the box, and he drilled it to make it 2-1 Red Bulls.
In the 86th minute, New England’s Diego Fagundez had a big chance from the top of the box and Robles made the point-blank save.
The Red Bulls were in control for a good portion of the match as they won the possession battle, 60.5 percent to 39.5 percent and recorded a season-best 10 corner kicks.
It was Jesse Marsch’s 40th win as Red Bulls Head Coach in his third season at the helm. Marsch owns a 40-24-17 mark with the Red Bulls. Marsch moves within one win of franchise leaders Hans Backe (41) and Octavio Zambrano (41) for the most career regular-season wins with the Red Bulls.
The Red Bulls are now 6-2-6, 20 points, on the season, and have moved into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. New England dropped to 4-4-5, 16 points, in ninth place in the East.
Marsch said of the offense and Lawrence, “Yeah, I think that’s our best game. And if you go through Kemar, I think Kemar has been if not our best player then one of our best players this year.
“He started out slow, had a couple personal things he had to fight through with his family. But, my gosh, he’s playing the best he’s ever played. It’s just a series of consecutive games that he takes care of things defensively first, then finds a way to be dangerous in the attack and make some plays. It’s great to see.
“We’ve all here had such a high belief in Kemar and his personality and his talent, his way of committing to all this. I’m really proud of him. I’m really happy for him. Hopefully we won’t miss him too much this summer with Jamaica.”
Marsch said of the slow start and the penalty on Perrinelle, “You know, sometimes it just works out that way. Actually, we didn’t have a bad start, but then one play gets away from us.
“But I’ll say this. It’s exactly what we needed. It’s exactly what we needed. We needed to be challenged. We needed to go through a little moment of doubting ourselves and feeling like, Here we go again, then to dig deep and know we’re the better team, know that we have true belief in ourselves, truly go after the game.
“We did that at such a high level that I think we grew a lot tonight. Like, even just a normal 2-1 win would not have meant as much as the way that game played out.
“Now, we have to stop making mistakes that hurt us too much. We consider penalties set pieces. So it’s another set piece goal that we’ve given up. We’re not happy with that.
“But I made a statement to Damien, for sure, that we’re all with him, and he’s got to find a way to fight his way through this because he’s an important guy around here and we need him. He can’t go into a hole and he can’t feel sorry for himself.”
Marsch said of Robles, “I mean, Luis’ ability to keep a high level of concentration and focus. I mean, he’s engaged in the game to make sure tactically he’s connected with the back line. I think he’s always on top of his defenders in front of him to stay alert.
“He’s a unique individual. He’s locked in at all moments. It’s important. It’s an important quality he has. It feeds to our whole team. It’s nice. I don’t even know what the number is at any more. He’s just so solid and consistent and reliable. I mean, those are the best qualities you can say about a goalkeeper.”
Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan said of the teams performance, “In terms of ideas and chances created I think so. It felt like we had a ton of possession, that we were really pushing them back, and the ideas were clear, the chances we were cutting out were pretty good chances. It was a shame to come in here at halftime down a goal, because we had created some pretty good chances. Got gifted one early, but I told the team after, I think whether they gifted us a goal early or not, regardless, we were going to come out of here with three points the way we were pushing the game.”
Kljestan said of the team needing a win, “Winning is always important. Sometimes when you play bad and you win, that’s important too. Tonight I thought we had a pretty good overall complete performance and got three points, so it’s nice when those things go hand in hand, because then we feel like we can build off this. Yeah, it’s important for us at this moment in the season.”
After playing six of their last eight MLS games at home, the Red Bulls play three of their next four league games on the road, starting with a big game at the Montreal Impact on Saturday, June 3rd.
The Red Bulls take on New York City Football Club twice at Red Bull Arena in a ten-day span, in the US Open Cup on Wednesday, June 14th at 8:00 pm, and Sunday, June 24th at 1:30 pm.