Alex Muyl scores one of his two goals against goalkeeper Daniel Vega. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — Sometimes bad luck for one player can turn into good luck for another.
Just ask the Red Bulls after an injury turned into a positive result for them in their home opener Saturday afternoon.
Alex Muyl, who replaced an injured Florian Valot in the opening half, struck twice within a 20-minute span in the second half to lift the Red Bulls to a 4-1 comeback victory over the San Jose Earthquakes before a sparse crowd at Red Bulls Arena.
Muyl sparked a second-half charge by the Red Bulls, who connected four times to erase a one-goal deficit.
“Well, I’ll say one thing about Alex. He doesn’t get enough credit and enough appreciation on the outside,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said. “On the inside, we know what he brings, and we have the pleasure of working with a guy like him who gives so much to the team every day, understands how we play.
“So I was thrilled that he could come in and influence the game the way he did. He understands the way we play. We call him a philosophy player. He works, he runs, he’s intelligent at what he does.”
A New York City native, Muyl tallied in the 51st minute and 71st minutes, the second score breaking a 1-1 deadlock. He entered the match in the 32nd minute after Valot suffered an apparent leg injury.
“No one wants to see that as a sub,” said Muyl, adding that it was “never easy to come into the game at that point you’re not warm you’re not really prepared you’re not expected to play that much. Luckily, I’ve had enough experience with this team that I was able to step in and thankfully helped the team.”
Bradley Wright-Phillips added his first goal of the season, an insurance tally in the 85th minute, as did Daniel Royer in the 89th minute.
The game did not start well for the Red Bulls (1-0-1, 4 points), who struggled against the winless Earthquakes (0-3-0, 0) in the opening 45 minutes.
The Red Bulls’ defensive deficiencies continued as only five minutes after kickoff Cristian Espinoza celebrated his first goal of this season with his teammates in front of the Southward.
Espinosza, who made life miserable for left back Kyle Duncan, snagged onto a feed from Magnus Eriksson and fired a close-range shot from the right side, one bounce past a sprawled Luis Robles to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.
Counting the 5-2 loss at Santos Laguna in the Concacaf Champions League Tuesday night, that meant the Red Bulls had surrendered five goals in their last 23 minutes.
Just over five minutes into the second half, the Red Bulls equalized. Wright-Phillips, who endured a frustrating first half that was dominated by him talking and complaining to referee Rubiel Vazquez, fired a shot from 25 yards that goalkeeper Daniel Vega sprawled to his left to knock away.
The ball rebounded to Royer on the left side and he slotted a pass to an open Muyl, who tucked the ball into the net for a 1-1 deadlock in the 51st minute.
Muyl produced some more magic in the second half to lift the hosts to a 2-1 lead.
Midfielder Sean Davis started the scoring sequence with a free kick some 25 yards out on the right side. Royer ran over the ball as Davis rolled the ball to the Austrian midfielder on the right side. Royer crossed the ball, which hit a San Jose defender and went to an open Muyl at the left post and the midfielder had an easy time volleying it home for his second goal of the match.
“That’s credit to him and it’s credit to the character of the squad,” Wright-Phillips said. “I had a little word with Alex just telling how much character that shows. When you get left out, you want to help the team win. He wasn’t chosen but to come back and score two and to help us get that win is credit to him.”
BWP gave the Red Bulls some breathing room as he slipped home a Davis feed from the right side for a 3-1 margin in the 85th minute before Royer found the net four minutes later.