Honestly, I’m not as upset as I thought I would be at the Red Bulls elimination from the 2011 MLS Playoffs. Going into the two-leg playoff series against Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls were the clear underdog. This was the match-up MLS was hoping for at the beginning of the season, but Don Garber would have rather seen these two teams in the final rather then the conference semifinal.
Yet again New York didn’t have a full bench, which is off for a professional franchise. We decided to only fly 6 substitutes to Carson, California, instead of the normal 7. That’s a tad bit embarrassing and only adds insult to the injury that was the 2011 season.
Now onto the game! On New York’s goal, Omar Gonzalez failed to mark Luke Rodgers and then got caught on the wrong side of the player as he bore down on Josh Saunders in goal. Perhaps this inexperience and lack of positioning prowess is the reason why he didn’t receive a call up by Jurgen Klinsmann for this month’s friendlies.
The goal, coming in the fourth minute, caught the Galaxy by surprise and put New York back level on aggregate. Luke Rodgers had clearly embodied the a charging bull early in the match and could have gotten sent off for overly aggressive tackling and hassling after the fouls in the first half hour.
Beckham’s smug celebration on Los Angeles’s goal in the 42nd minute sums up the gulf in class between these two clubs. New York is the only team who spends around the same ballpark as the Galaxy but clearly has not been nearly as intelligent in choosing their expensive players. Mike Magee has been coming up huge for LA during the playoffs (especially against New York) and shows what New York has yet again given up in player transfers in recent years.
Defense on set pieces is a regular source of criticism for most teams, but on LA’s goal New York was particularly atrocious. I don’t know why the tactical wizard who is Hans Backe places the 5’7″ Dane Richards into the box on a corner kick to mark anybody, let alone in form Magee. This is just another decision that forces my decision to ax Swede from Red Bulls’ management.
Roy Miller just completely lost control of himself halfway through the second half. I just don’t really understand what compelled him to kick Beckham in the ribs inside the box. After Donovan slotted the ensuing penalty past Frank Rost, Los Angeles had all but sealed passage to the Western Conference Finals.