Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his ninth goal of the season in the first half (USA TODAY Photo)
By Michael Lewis
We’ll answer the obvious question with the obvious answer:
Were the Red Bulls hurt by the absence of center back Tim Parker and defensive midfielder Tyler Adams in their 2-1 loss at the New England Revolution Saturday?
Of course they were. When you don’t have players of that caliber, no matter who wears their shoes can’t duplicate their performance.
Of course, that wasn’t the only factor in the defeat.
Here are five takeaways from the game in Foxborough, Mass.:
An ugly win is better than a pretty loss
Yeah, Saturday night’s encounter was pretty ugly. Several players from both teams were slow to get off after hard fouls or clashes. The physical rating was 8.5 out of 10. But the Revs were feeling a lot better than the Red Bulls because they managed to survive the physical fest. I’ve seen games that were uglier. But the last time I looked, no one gives out points for playing pretty. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful soccer played in the beautiful game as much as any observer. But sometimes you just have to grind it out.
BWP stands alone in many ways, good and bad
Bradley Wright-Phillips tallied the Red Bulls’ lone goal of the match with a nasty, nasty header off a pin-point right-wing cross by Sean Davis for his ninth goal of the season. I realize we can hearing how underrated and underappreciated BWP is throughout the league, but in the Lewis house, he is always given his due as one of the most dangerous strikers, if not the deadliest, in the league. If you’re counting the English striker has scored 95 MLS goals and 112 over all competitions. However, BWP needed more help from his teammates Saturday night. The Red Bulls needed more opportunities and shots by his teammates on goalkeeper Matt Turner. He can be a showman with his goals, but he shouldn’t be a one-man show.
As aforementioned, Adams and Parker were needed, especially the former. No one in the league energizes a team like the Wappingers Falls, N.Y. resident. He seems to be all over the field and has an amazing ability to recover and get caught out of position too many times. That’s why he is with the U.S. national team in Europe. Sean Davis, who played a very good game, turned out to be the lone holding/defensive midfielder.
Parker has brought his physical presence to the Red Bulls’ backline from Vancouver and his transition to the team has been as smooth as can be. He and Aaron Long have formed a formidable tandem in the center of the backline. Aurelien Collin is a hard-nosed center back who won’t take crap from anyone. He will give shots (when he is playing regularly, the Frenchman is good for at least one red card and one yellow-card suspension a year) and take them as well.
And remember, the Red Bulls’ depth on the backline was tested because both Panamanian international defenders, Michael Amir Murillo and Fidel Escobar, are preparing for the World Cup.
The center back quandary
No doubt the Red Bulls boast three starters in central defense, although usually only two can play. Both starters, Long and Collin, wound up on the ground in pain or were slow to get up at least once. Collin, who plays with a take no prisoners philosophy and sometimes gets banged up himself. Losing either one in a game, with Parker in Europe, would leave a huge hole for next week’s game.
Diego Fagundez scoring a minute into first-half stoppage time was a killer because no team should surrender a goal in the opening or final five minutes of a half. That equalized the match and I don’t think New York truly recovered from it. And Teal Bunbury should not have been that open on the game-winner in the 78th minute.