July 30, 2009
A TYING EXPERIENCE
Red Bulls draw with W Connection, 2-2
Marabella, Trinidad & Tobago -- There are two ways to look at the Red Bulls' 2-2 draw with W Connection in its CONCACAF Champions League preliminary-round match on Thursday night.
|Ernst Obster scored in his Red Bulls debut.
On the positive side, the Red Bulls actually rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to take a rare lead.
On the negative side, they lost that lead and had to settle for a tie. The Red Bulls extended their winless streak in all competitions to 14 games.
W Connection equalized in the 72nd minute, but the Red Bulls definitely have a fighting chance in the total goals series. The second leg set for Giants Stadium next Wednesday. The winner will qualify for group play, which begins in August.
Since road goals are the first tie-breaker in the series, the Red Bulls put themselves in solid position prior to next week's match.
"I can't praise the guys enough," Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio told MLSnet.com. "I thought it was great because it's not just coming back in any game. It was hot, humid against a very difficult team, but again considering the circumstances and the way the season has gone, it was a very difficult task to keep going and believe in what we were doing and the boys did that."
Added midfielder Seth Stammler: "We have to come out of this game pretty confident. We know W Connection is a good, attacking team. We created a lot of chances tonight. We were unfortunate with some and obviously fortunate with the two goals."
The Red Bulls continued a season-long tradition when they allowed W Connection to score in the final five minutes of the opening half.
W Connection grabbed a 1-0 halftime lead on the strength of Jonathan Fana Farias' goal in the 40th minute of the first leg of the home-and-home, total goals serie.
The struggling Red Bulls (2-15-4 in MLS) had allowed 11 goals in the final five minutes of the first half or in a game through 21 league matches this season.
The goal turned out to be a fortunate home for the hosts before a sparse crowd at manny Ramjohn Stadium. W Connection sent a corner kick into the penalty area and Red Bulls striker Juan Pablo Angel, trying to send the ball out of harm's way, instead headed it off the crossbar. The ball fell to the ground and Farias managed to get to it before defender Mike Petke did and he tapped it home for a 1-0 advantage.
"Once the goal went in you can't help but think, 'Here we go again,'" Stammler was quoted by mlsnet.com. "But before the game we talked with each other and bound together to make a good push at this tournament."
Angel tried to equalize in the 44th minute, but his seven-yard header went straight to goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams.
Austrian midfielder Ernst Öbster, signed by the club last week, made his Red Bulls debut payoff big time by connecting for the equalizer in the 48th minute.
Angel had the ball on the right side and sent it to an onrushing Dane Richards toward the corner. Richards, who arguably played his best game of the year, crossed the ball to an unmarked Öbster on the left side of the area. He took a shot that deflected off defender Kern Cupid and past Williams for a 1-1 deadlock.
"I'm happy I scored and hopefully I can score some more goals," Öbster told mlsnet.com. "At the end of the day, you don't ask if the goal is good or if the goal is bad."
The Red Bulls grabbed a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute off a 30-yard shot by left fullback Alfredo Pacheco that was deflected not once, but twice. Pacheco fired a long-distance attempt that was deflected by W Connection captain Elijah Joseph past Williams.
But W Connection would not go down silently as the hosts equalized in the 72nd minute. A Red Bull defender missed a header at the top of the penalty area and Hughton Hector found himself alone. He launched a blast that hit the left post and bounded into the net past Cepero for a 2-2 deadlock.
You could tell the game was played in hot and humid conditions because only 10 minutes into the encounter, players from both teams were sweating profusely.