|The Columbus Crew taking a penalty kick against the Red Bulls. Photo by Jason Schott.
New York City Football Club got the weekend started by beating Sporting Kansas City, 3-1, at Yankee Stadium Friday night. The Red Bulls were also home this weekend, and they fell, 3-2, to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
With these results, NYCFC improved to 9-8-3, with 35 points, and leaped over the Red Bulls, who fell to 10-4-9, 34 points, and into fourth place. The Red Bulls are in fifth, one point ahead of Montreal and New England.
Columbus Crew SC 3, Red Bulls 2 (Saturday):
Columbus came out firing in this one, as Artur fired one of the post in the 10th minute, followed by a blast from Luis Argudo that was blocked aside by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Despite that early flurry of activity, it was the Red Bulls who got on the board first when Brian White scored in the 15th minute as Marc Rzatkowski served a pass inside the box for him. With two guys on his back, White flicked the pass with his head to the near post for his eighth goal of the season.
Columbus tied it just a minute later when Luis Agurdo received a long pass down the right side from Gyasi Zardes and fired it by Robles.
It stayed that way until halftime, and it took Columbus just one minute into the second half to take the lead.
Pedro Santos, on a feed from Argudo and Hector Jimenez, came down the left side and beat Robles on the short side to make it 2-1 Columbus in the 46th minute.
In the 63rd minute, it appeared that Columbus committed a foul inside the box, and after going to VAR, Daniel Royer was awarded a penalty kick.
Royer finished to his left to level the match at 2. This was his second penalty kick of the season, and he improved to a perfect 8-for-8 for his career. The Austrian winger moved into a tie with Bradley Wright-Phillips for third all-time in franchise history with eight penalty kick goals.
Royer also remained tied with White for the team lead in goals with eight. In the last six matches, Royer and White have combined to score nine of the last 12 Red Bulls goals.
Columbus was putting pressure on in the 84th minute. After a crucial save by Robles, Columbus' Pedro Santos picked up the loose ball to make it 3-2 Columbus, scoring what turned out to be the game winner.
Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas said of Columbus' tactics in this one, with a heavy reliance on long passes, "Yeah, listen, what Columbus did on the night is what we've seen a lot of teams do. They came here, they changed their tactics. They really changed their approach to what they want to do to us, and that approach can be disruptive to any team.
"You just don't really see it where teams just play 30 percent of long balls all day, it's difficult. Third ball comes from the long ball -- those are not easy to deal with, but they should be dealt with. We should be better. We've been put in a lot of games like this. We've talked about now little ways to deal with that, creating buffers, jumping first, bumping back into the game, just a lot of little ways that we've managed along the way to deal with that, but that's what they did. We talked about having a good strike to each half. It wasn't our night and Columbus was hungry and they deserved to win."
NYCFC 3, Sporting Kansas City 1 (Friday):
NYCFC received a phenomenal performance from their captain, Alex Ring, who had one goal and two assists, playing a part in all of their three goals.
NYCFC got on the board first in the 41st minute when Anton Tinnerholm scored on a feed from Ring and Alexandru Mitriță.
In the 54th, NYCFC doubled their lead when Ring gave a brilliant set-up to Héber, who scored his ninth goal of the season. He also became the first NYCFC player to score in five consecutive MLS games.
Sporting Kansas City got on the board in the 73rd minute when Ilie Sanchez scored on a feed from Benny Feilhaber and Johnny Russell.
Four minutes later, NYCFC put the game away when Ring scored after getting a nice feed from Gary Mackay-Steven. It was Ring's third goal of the season.
NYCFC Head Coach Domenec Torrent said of Ring’s performance, “We changed the shape to play five in the back, and then we played vertical with Keaton [Parks] behind [Alex] Ring. And that is the reason why we were able to create scoring opportunities. I say many times, maybe sometimes its better when he plays number eight or number ten in a 4-3-3. But we played 5-3-2 in the last 30 minutes and I think it’s a good chance for [Alex] Ring because he has this quality. He can play right all the time; he has to control the ball and after that he helps us when we don’t have the ball.”