HARRISON, N.J. - - In beautiful 80 degree weather, a late arriving crowd missed out on some of the early action, but the lack of fans did not prevent the great acoustics of Red Bull Arena from creating an exciting atmosphere. The Red Bulls controlled possession, but it was the Crew that capitalized on their opportunities.
Chris Albright made his league debut for the New York Red Bulls as Hans Backe made a series of changes to his line-up that saw Roy Miller and Dane Richards given their first opportunities in new positions, center midfield and forward, respectively. The Crew made similar adjustments with Guillermo Barros Schelotto suspended for an elbow and Chad Marshall with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
The game started with electricity as both teams traded attacks, with Frankie Hejduk providing some good early service. Chris Albright returned the favor with cross-cum-shot that nearly beat Will Hesmer.
Seth Stammler showed his technical ability. setting up Juan Pablo Angel for the first real goal-scoring threat in the 12th minute. Stammler delicately took down a 40-yard ball over his shoulder with one clean touch near the right sideline. After two touches, he centered to Juan Pablo Angel, who bundled through Eric Brunner at the top of the box, but his low shot for the far post was several feet wide.
After a long spell of controlled possession the Red Bulls created several chances, but nothing that truly threatened Hesmer’s goal. The Crew meanwhile seemed content to attempt counters through the wings and Steven Lenhart.
Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha adjusted to the pressure by placing Steven Lenhart as the target striker and rotating Jason Garey, Eddie Gaven, and Emmanuel Ekpo between the wide midfield and withdrawn forward positions.
The move paid off in the 35th minute as Frankie Hejduk found space off a throw-in deep in Red Bulls territory and sent in an inch perfect cross to Eddie Gaven. Gaven lost Tim Ream and Bouna Coundoul was left helpless.
The Red Bulls almost responded immediately as Sinisa Ubiparipovic found space on the right breaking into the box. His driven shot beat Hesmer, but it careened off the far post and back out to the top of the box.
The craziness did not stop there as the Crew added a second only two minutes later as Eddie Gaven’s corner found Andy Iro unmarked at the top of the six. His header floated easily past Coundoul to the unguarded near post.
The Crew nearly added a third in the 42nd minute as Jason Garey muscled his way past left back Danleigh Borman. Ream came over quickly, but Garey’s pass, intended for Lenhart, deflected to Gaven who saw his shot slide wide of the far post.
The second half opened with the same intensity as the Red Bulls earned a corner in less than thirty seconds and Eddie Gaven found himself in on goal within three minutes. Neither opportunity resulted in a goal.
An Andy Iro error on a long ball in the 50th minute nearly gifted Dane Richards a goal. As it skimmed off his foot the Jamaican sprinted past him and held him off all the way to the goal, but his shot bounced agonizingly off the far post for the second time of the night. Richards would create several more chances finding space between the center backs, but the defenders or Hesmer continued to close him down before he got his shot off convincing Hans Backe to move him back to right wing and opting for a 3-5-2 to close out the game.
In the 63rd, Andy Iro took down Dane Richards after a quick turn 22 yards straight out from goal. Juan Pablo Angel stepped up and sent the ball over the wall and dipping for the upper corner only to see his attempt denied by the woodwork for the third time of the night.
Steven Lenhart nearly put one into his own net in the 78th minute, but his defensive header bounced about six inches wide of the post.
The Red Bulls continued to control possession and keep the pressure on the Crew and it finally paid off in the 82nd minute as substitute Tony Tchani rose highest in the box to head in a deep cross from fellow substitute Carlos Mendes.
But again the Crew bounced back, putting the game out of doubt in the 82nd minute as Tim Ream and Mike Petke got their lines crossed and both stepped off a bouncing ball leaving substitute Emilio Renteria free in on goal. Renteria calmly touched the ball past an onrushing Coundoul and slid the ball into the back of the net.
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