Sunday, July 14, 2019

Red Bulls Outlast NYCFC, Who Question Refs' Actions On Game-Winner

The Red Bulls celebrate the game-winner while NYCFC protests. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Red Bulls won the first installment of the Hudson River Derby on Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, 2-1, over New York City Football Club.

Daniel Royer scored both goals for the Red Bulls, the second of which was shrouded in controversy.

With the win, the Red Bulls leap from sixth to third place in the Eastern Conference, as they are now 9-4-7, with 31 points, just one behind DC United and five points behind Philadelphia for the top spot.
NYCFC drops from fifth to sixth place, which is the final playoff spot, with a record of 7-8-3, 29 points, one back of Atlanta and Montreal.

NYCFC got on the board first just seven minutes into the game when they put together a spectacular play that started with Maxi Moralez dropping it off to Anton Tinnerholm on the right side, and he fired it into the box to Heber, who buried it to make it 1-0. It was the seventh goal of the season for the Brazilian forward in his first season with the team.

In the late stages of the first half, the Red Bulls' Brian White earned a penalty kick in the 45th minute. Royer took the penalty kick and finished to the upper top left corner for the equalizer.

In the second half, the Red Bulls had possession deep in NYCFC territory, and they received a throw-
in after it appeared the referees called for a corner kick.

NYCFC was not aware of the switch, so their defense was set up differently than it should have been. 

The Red Bulls took the throw-in quickly, and Marc Rzatkowski fed Cristian Casseres, Jr. in the box. Casseres, Jr. crossed his pass inside the six-yard box for Royer, who redirected with a header to the far post for what turned out to be the game winner in the 60th minute. This was Royer's seventh goal of the season.

NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson and his teammates ran right towards the referee after the goal, and a discussion ensued for a few minutes. They then voiced their displeasure after the final whistle leaving the pitch as well.

NYCFC Head Coach Domenec Torrent made it clear how he afterwards: "This is a mistake. They know. He decided the game. I said to him, you decide the game and you know that. You decide the game. You are not brave. You decide the game. What is the reason why? Corner, maybe he make a mistake, maybe it's not corner, I accept that. But when they say corner, two or three seconds, and say my player is corner, is a mistake. You have to say to the referee, say, oh, it's corner for me, and the result -- it's not the result. They take the ball and you know what happened after that.
"That is not an excuse. It's the reality, boys. That happened today, here in the Red Bull Arena, here tonight, not ten months ago. And that happened because we have to improve. We have to improve. I have to improve, but the refs does, as well. It's important for MLS, if you want to get the next set, it's about the refs, as well, because he decide. Look, tonight he decide the game."

That last statement is the latest one from Torrent, who has coached in Europe his whole career before taking over NYCFC last summer, questioning how the MLS does things and where it stands in world soccer.

Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas said of the controversial goal, "Yeah, probably too much talking than should be allowed. I've never seen such dialogue after a decision is made. Why are you going to walk to midfield -- again, I don't know who manages that situation with the referee, but how is there that much discussion and we're allowing that, as a league? For me, the decision's made and there was a few more minutes of that. No one came to watch that. As referees, I think we should take more control of that situation.
"Again, oftentimes referees like this, they don't let you, but how is there so much discussion? It breaks the rhythm of the game, the momentum that we have. I'm sure there could be a reason for it, and it was a bit strange, nine minutes of stoppage, that's how much, but a little bit of an odd situation. And again, like there's VAR these days and they make a decision and we move on with it. But attempting to have them look longer at it, I'm not sure. It's just seems we shouldn't tolerate that dialogue...
"I don't think that was a turning point in the game like in terms of a shift in who has the game. So again, decisions are made, and you get on with it. I don't see anything over again. I was close but I didn't see what happened. Turned around, a quick play and that's it. It's part of the game, I guess. If it's an err or, it's unfortunate, we don't want it to be that way."

Torrent said of the game and more on the controversial play, "I think it was the team -- they played much better, especially in the first half and we can't score more goals. That is the first one. The second one, we make a mistake, and we know they play the long balls, when they recover the ball -- the Red Bulls, they are dangerous when they don't have the ball. When they have the ball, you can control this team. But when they don't have the ball all the time, they play fast, they play in the middle and we knew that. After that, congratulation to (inaudible) because he wasn't great, because he negated Connor, and we had anticipated corner -- what happened everybody else, we are not ready because when they decide it's corner, we are ready for the corner. They play fast because we know that. They play fast when they recover the ball -- but today, I'm so sorry for the soccer, because it's not fair what happened in this game, I'm so sorry. Sometimes I don't like to talk about the refs, but impossible, don't talk about the refs tonight, and everybody knows what happened. You have a doubt, you can go see the TV; it's clear. But it's indicated, two seconds -- and what happened after that, maybe it's our mistake, but it's not easy once they corner and you are not ready for the corner.
"But after that, I think we play much better, especially in the first half. We create two or three opportunities to win the game. But the soccer, I say many times, it's not about if you play much better than the opening because they play always in the same way and they get the results all the time, and congratulation, Red Bull, it's the first one, congratulation. I'm very happy for Chris (Armas), especially for him, and okay, we have to be ready for the next game. It's not easy to play here after 11 hours on our flight, because we have many problems in Orlando (for the US Open Cup). But I think we compete really well against the Red Bull."

Armas said of the game and adjustments his team made in the second half, "Well, look, we had a good start to the game. No real surprises because we thought coming in, had a general principle, they valued possession, but we had a plan of direct play. So yeah, look, it's still so much easier when you're on the side to understand the solutions, but when they part, especially on the goal kicks when they are putting on these five and ten yards of off-sides, ten and 15 yards into your half, it makes the back line uncomfortable so forces you into a little bit of a passive mode.
"So maybe they are setting the line on the back and maybe not us setting the line and we are at our best when we can compress space and be aggressive. Yeah, we probably weren't as aggressive stepping out of the back line. They were parking three guys centrally, one of those -- with Moralez up makes it difficult. Overall, though, we didn't figure that we had too much trouble in the first half, just some adjustments that needed to be made."

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