Photo by ISI Photos
Jozy Altidore could have let frustration overtake him, and it almost did. Battered and bruised throughout the first half of the Red Bulls match against San Jose, Altidore struggled to make an impact despite the Red Bulls controlling play in the first half.
After being told by head coach Juan Carlos Osorio at halftime to keep focused, Altidore kept on playing and eventually found away to repay the Earthquakes for his early frustrations. He drew a 78th-minute penalty to set up a Mike Magee penalty kick goal, then finished off the Red Bulls’ most complete performance of the season with a last-second goal of his own to help the Red Bulls post a 2-0 victory on Sunday afternoon at Giants Stadium.
The result was a fair one for a Red Bulls team that controlled the action throughout, out-shooting the Earthquakes 19-5, with an 8-2 edge in shots on goal. Red Bulls captain Claudio Reyna delivered his best performance of the season while Mike Magee converted a penalty kick for his first goal in 21 months.
Here are some other observations from the match:
John Wolyniec struggled with his touch, his passing and his shooting for more than 70 minutes, but he never stopped working and wound up helping create both Red Bulls goals. His perfect pass to spring Altidore set up the penalty, and his dish to Altidore on the second goal was well-placed as well. He is not Juan Pablo Angel, or Jozy Altidore, but Wolyniec is a useful third forward and has proven it yet again.
Claudio Reyna delivered a top-notch performance on Sunday. He was all over the midfield, winning balls, sending passes away from pressure and into positions where teammates could operate. He was as lively, active, quick and effective today as I have seen him in a long time. No, he didn’t score, and no, he didn’t have an assist, but his impact on the match was impressive.
Chris Leitch redeemed himself with a steady effort at right back today. He has played two games at his natural right back position this year and has delivered two good performances. Is it a coincidence that both came in wins?
Mike Magee can still play. He moves well in the attack, slips into good positions and can pass well. His ability to stay healthy has been the question mark, but he will be given every chance to succeed as he regains full fitness and could be poised to push out Sinisa Ubiparipovic as a starting central midfielder.
Dave Van Den Bergh had a relatively quiet game but he did well to limit Ronnie O’Brien’s chances. O’Brien was considered San Jose’s most dangerous player coming into the match but he barely registered anything on Sunday.
Luke Sassano shows some signs of being a useful player but he also shows his lack of experience and isn’t long for the right wing role, not with Dane Richards and Hunter Freeman close to returning.
Kevin Goldthwaite delivered another strong effort and stated after the match that he should be fine for Thursday. Of course he said this as he struggled to put his pants on because the pain in his back was so great.
Jeff Parke did well on San Jose forward Kei Kamara, but came close to losing his cool on a few occasions as the two got tangled up a few times. Kamara delivered a handful of sly cheap shots on Parke, who was none too pleased. Much like Altidore, Parke needs to learn to control his emotions.
So what will the lineup look like vs. Toronto FC on Thursday? Here’s an early guess:
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Magee in for Ubiparipovic, or Sassano in for Freeman (who still may not be ready), but I think this lineup is the one I see Osorio using, assuming these players are healthy.
What did you think of tonight’s match? Share your thoughts on that, as well as Thursday’s match with Toronto, in the comments section below.