When the San Jose Earthquakes are bad, that team is downright awful. That is probably the biggest takeaway from Friday evening’s Major League Soccer showdown involving the Earthquakes and the New York Red Bulls, a game the hosting Red Bulls thoroughly controlled en route to a 2-0 victory.
The truth of the matter is that this was a sloppy and downright ugly encounter for the opening 25 minutes of play until the starting lineup of the Red Bulls truly got going. From there, it was game over. San Jose were left reeling following a tally that shouldn’t have happened for multiple reasons, and a second New York goal buried six minutes after the match opener knocked the Earthquakes to the mat with a shot that would have stopped the contest if it was a mixed martial arts fight. Outside of a handful of opportunities that were either squandered or that never materialized, the Earthquakes were essentially on the pitch to serve as a practice squad for the dominant Red Bulls, and it is the Red New York squad that remains the best team in the MLS Eastern Conference.
NY Red Bulls 2-0 San Jose: MOTM
Lloyd Sam (more on him later) would be an easy choice for additional scintillating play that has him as an early MLS Most Valuable Player candidate, but I am instead giving the nod to Felipe Martins. Felipe had arguably the finest half of his campaign to date, and it was what could have been a forgettable instance of play featuring the 24-year old that resulted in the floodgates opening. A giveaway forced by Felipe in the 28th minute was followed up by the Brazilian playing a clever ball between two defenders, both of whom decided that marking Bradley Wright-Phillips, the man who tied the MLS single-season scoring record in 2014, was a silly idea. Wright-Phillips completed his run into the box before sliding and, intentionally or not, deflected the ball across goal and toward Sacha Kljestan. A wide open Kljestan had more than enough time to bury a strike that San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham had no chance of saving.
Bingham’s bad night was just getting started.
NY Red Bulls 2-0 San Jose: Say a prayer for…
the previously mentioned Bingham, who was hung out to dry time and time again in the final hour of play. Bingham was left stranded ten minutes from halftime when a flock of defenders all elected to stare down Sam, who had possession just outside of the right portion of the box. Nobody except for Sam noticed that Mike Grella had begun a stroll toward the far post, and the New York speedster delivered a cross that teed Grella up perfectly for a shot that slid beside the abandoned Bingham.
San Jose tried to put up a fight in the second half before reality set in in the final five of minutes, when those wearing the colors of the ‘Quakes became visibly dejected. It was strange to observe the Red Bulls, up two goals heading into stoppage time, actively pursuing a third goal, but Bingham refused to be beaten a third time. The San Jose ‘keeper was the single bright spot in his team, and that spark would not have been enough to light up a closet on this night.
Sam can also be added to this category, as he had to be taken off in the 76th minute after he suffered an apparent leg injury. For what it is worth, Sam offered a “thumbs up” sign after he took a seat on the bench.
NY Red Bulls 2-0 San Jose: The standings are New York Red
Regardless of what happens in MLS fixtures over the weekend, the Red Bulls will nevertheless be able to legitimately claim a spot atop all MLS power rankings come Monday morning. New York can only be passed in the conference standings by DC United, but the Red Bulls will have a game in hand over their rivals. New York have already notched a win and a road draw over their hated rivals. Only two teams in MLS have yet to lose a regular season contest: The Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake.
New York are on 11 points after five games. RSL have thus far gained nine points in five contests.
NY Red Bulls 2-0 San Jose: Marsch the man?
It has to be said that new New York Jesse Marsch is doing exactly what he promised to achieve after he was named the replacement for club legend and former head coach Mike Petke: The Red Bulls are composed, they are holding their form and their formations, and they are playing fast and attacking soccer.
Like an energy drink, if you will.
Marsch is getting the most out of Grella, a North American Soccer League castoff. He is wisely utilizing Dane Richards as a second half super-sub. His man-management has been spot-on in every game.
In Marsch you trust, Red Bulls faithful?