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New York Red Bulls Beat Columbus Crew in Dramatic Win

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)


Major League Soccer entered the penultimate day in dramatic fashion, with simultaneous kickoffs for all Eastern Conference teams. The New York Red Bulls were sitting atop the East heading into their showdown with the Columbus Crew, but tied on points with cross town rivals New York City FC. The matchup seemed like a preferable one compared to that of their opponents at the top of the East; NYCFC had an in-form DC United, and Toronto FC had a match against Canadian rival Montréal Impact, while the Crew had already been eliminated from playoff contention. The day, which was the Red Bulls’ last home match of the regular season, ended on a high note, with a 3-2 win, but the match, as it seemingly always does with the Red Bulls, had its complications.

Fielding an unchanged lineup from the win over the Philadelphia Union a fortnight ago, New York packed the pressure early and were rewarded. Alex Muyl soared into the penalty area, only for Columbus goalkeeper Brad Stuver to take him down, resulting in a penalty but a surprising no call on Stuver’s potentially red card worthy offense, as the referee decided to not book him. Sacha Kljestan took to the spot, but Stuver dove to his left and managed the save.

The first half saw mostly opportunities for the Red Bulls to get a go-ahead goal, but the team looked sluggish after that missed penalty, and the half ended scoreless. Luckily for New York, results were on their side thus far around the league; both NYCFC and Toronto were trailing, meaning that a draw would keep the Red Bulls in first.

New York came into the second half much more energetic than they did the first, and grabbed a goal eight minutes after the break. It was none other than Kljestan who fed Mike Grella, who took a shot from distance and got past Stuver, who had been making saves left and right up to that point.

Five minutes later, Muyl made a run along the left side of the field to find Bradley Wright-Phillips, who finished from a wide angle to send his team up 2-0 in the 58th minute. A further cushion was built after Wright-Phillips scored again 70 minutes in, with assists from Kljestan off the corner and Aurélien Collin being the in-between for the two MVP candidates.

Just as it seemed the Red Bulls managed to build a comfortable lead to see out the last 20 minutes, Columbus got a goal through Adam Jahn in the 73rd minute. Quickly, New York went to five in the back to preserve their lead, a common tactic this season. Soon enough, their lead was cut, a common habit this season.

Columbus, with momentum on their side, challenged Luis Robles’ goal. The breakthrough came in the 83rd minute, when Michael Parkhurst found Harrison Afful in the penalty area; Afful promptly chipped it over Robles, setting up for a very tense seven minutes.

Robles made a few saves, and the Red Bulls managed to create a few opportunities of their own. After four minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew his whistle and the Red Bulls managed to hold long enough for the three points.

With NYCFC and Toronto losing, the Red Bulls have all but clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference, despite being dead last back in May. Wright-Phillips sits atop the Golden Boot standings with 23, one ahead of NYCFC’s David Villa, who also scored today. Kljestan, also enjoying a stellar season, now leads the league with 19 assists, one shy of a 20 assist mark no one’s reached since 2000, when Carlos Valderrama nabbed 26 for the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

Following the match, Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter had only things to say about his opposition, saying “I think Red Bull has a strong team, I really do…If everyone stays healthy, I can see them going far.”

Jesse Marsch was also complimentary, saying “I wasn’t concerned at 1 and [6]…This group’s on a remarkable run. He said at 3-2, he “was pretty sure” they’d close the game out. Now that the regular season is one match away from its end, Marsch and his team have a new goal: “Our goal is to win MLS Cup.”

New York finish the regular season on the road, facing Philadelphia on Sunday, October 23, before they begin their playoff run.

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Pardeep is the New York Red Bulls Beat Writer for while also covering other soccer teams and events.
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