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Rocky Mountain High: Red Bulls win Third Straight

Derrick Etienne Jr. celebrates after scoring the game winning goal against the Colorado Rapids Saturday Night

Commerce City, CO–March 12, 2018– The New York Red Bulls earned a tough 3 points Saturday night as they earned a grinded out 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids.  The win was the first for New York in Colorado since 2007, and despite having a two-goal lead late in the match, the victory was hardly an easy one for the visitors at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The Red Bulls were the beneficiary of a tough break for the Rapids just before kickoff, when Colorado’s leading striker Dominique Badji was a late scratch with tightness in his hamstring.  The visitors would instantly take advantage as Bradley Wright-Phillips delivered a beautiful cross to a charging Daniel Royer who scored past United States GK Tim Howard at his near post for his second goal of the season.  However, despite the early goal, it was the home side who had a majority of possession in the opening 10 minutes.  Colorado got its first quality look at goal in the 17th minute when winger Sam Nicholson weaved his way through the Red Bulls defense down the left, however his shot was pulled wide of the far post and barely troubled New York keeper Luis Robles.

Jesse Marsch’s side seemed very sluggish in the first half of the match, a fact not lost on the New York manager who could clearly be seen on the sideline gesticulating to his team to pick up the energy. As the game continued into the later stages of the first half, the word sluggish would have been very appropriate, with neither team getting out of the midfield or putting any serious pressure on goal.  RSL continued to tighten the screw late in the first half, but despite the pressure, the Red Bulls backline, Aaron Long in particular, provided several clearances to keep the match 1-0 to the visitors at halftime.

The second half of the match kept most of the characteristics of the first, with neither team getting anything significant going.  The Red Bulls first opportunity of any substance came in the 55th minute when Alejandro “Kaku” Romero-Gamarra slid a pass through to Wright-Phillips but his shot went well over the crossbar.  The Rapids would respond a couple of minutes later with a series of corners and crosses before a volley by Edgar Castillo from outside the box whistled just wide of Robles’ goal. The Red Bulls nearly doubled the lead in the 64th minute when Royer sent a cross to the back post where Tyler Adams fired a shot just wide of the post across goal which left Tim Howard helpless. Colorado nearly got on the board a minute later when Robles parried a powerful shot from the edge of the box.

Marsch made an attempt to change the pace of the match in the 66th minute with a double substitution, taking off Bradley Wright-Phillips and Florian Valot, for Derrick Etienne Jr and Alex Muyl in what would become a critical move late in the match.  The adjustment had the intended effect almost immediately with the visitors maintaining a much higher percentage of the ball which seemed to squeeze the life out of Colorado who failed to maintain any possession for the next 10 to 15 minutes.  In the 77th minute the Red Bulls doubled the lead when the substitutes connected as Alex Muyl sent in a low cross into the six yard box which was finished by Etienne Jr.

Colorado got back into the match late when a save by Robles rebounded to Jack McBean for a simple tap in which fully reenergized the Rapids and the fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.   The pressure continued when referee Ismail Elfath added 6 minutes of stoppage time to the second half during which the Red Bulls fended off several near chances in their defensive third by the slimmest of margins before the final whistle finally was blown.

The win makes three victories in a row for the Red Bulls for the first time since July of last season. That win streak which will certainly be tested next Sunday at 7 PM when New York travels to the top team in the Eastern Conference Atlanta United who boast 2 of the top 5 scorers in MLS Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez.

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