Drilling down on: Red Bulls 4, at Columbus 1
Man of the Match: Hard to imagine that Kenny Cooper may have been fourth on the Red Bulls preseason depth chart at striker, behind Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers and Juan Agudelo. After two early goals Saturday, Cooper is just behind Henry for MLS scoring leadership (going into Saturday night, that is.) It’s worth noting that Cooper had eight goals in 34 games last year. He has six so far in five games with the Red Bulls.
Packaged for take-away:
- The home team was never in this one. Cooper opened the scoring inside three minutes, and it was pretty much a downhill spiral from there for Robert Warzycha’s team. New York took five of the game’s first six shots, stroking the ball around confidently.
- The Crew sails caught some wind for about 10 minutes late in the first half. But Thierry Henry was left free to find the far post for New York’s third and, well, so much for the budding rally. (Columbus’ goal came way too late to matter.)
- Columbus’ defense has a lot to answer for on this one. The back line and midfield were absolutely on holiday. Cooper was given too much room on the opener, wasn’t challenged sufficiently on No. 2 and Henry looked like he was taking shooting practice on No. 3, completely unopposed as he drifted with glee into the penalty area. In between, Dane Richards, Rafa Marquez, Cooper and Henry were free to operate and serve in the final third with near-impunity. It could have been worse than 3-0 at halftime.
- Chances for the Crew before the halftime break? A couple of free kicks, maybe, and Milovan Mirosevic and Bernardo Anor whacked a couple of hopeful fliers from distance, but neither gave Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara any trouble.
- Three relatively trouble free matches have provided Meara with some breathing room as he settles into the pro game. (Not that he was poor at all in the side’s opening pair.)
- Pride presumably (hopefully) wounded, Columbus looked better in the second half. Dilly Duka’s introduction after 56 minutes pepped up the Crew attack, but a 3-0 deficit is a lot to overcome. (And in fairness, the Red Bulls had probably switched on the cruise control by then.)
- Mehdi Ballouchy replaced Joel Lindpere on the left for New York; the Estonian has struggled in 2012 to make any impact.