New York’s Strategy
Hans Backe utilized a strange formation which emphasized possession of the ball in the center of the pitch. Medhi Ballouchy was employed as a left sided midfielder but too often tucked inside to pick up the ball. Joel Lindpere played mostly in the center in front of Dax McCarty and behind Thierry Henry. Too often Lindpere and Ballouchy would be too close to each other, making it easy for DC to mark them with one player. McCarty operated as the holding midfielder but in possession he often times dropped in the middle of the two center backs. Henry was the playmaker behind Luke Rodgers, who may lack size and pace but he knows how to use his body to shield players and always finds good space to collect the ball and trouble the defense. Dane Richards played as a right winger. When involved he made diagonal runs in the right channel to try and get behind the defense.
Ben Olsen employed the same diamond 4-4-2 formation he used last week v Philly. Clyde Simms was the holding midfielder and Dwayne DeRosario played behind Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff. Contrary to last week, Wolff played a little behind Davies, who was playing off the shoulder of the Red Bulls center back. Andy Najar was on the right wing and cut inside and shot the ball four times. These attempts on goal showed his youth as they were rash and hurried. Chris Pontius played on the left and was the less involved of the two wingers.
First Hour Even with Both Sides Creating Chances
From the opening whistle, each side created half chances which made the match exciting and entertaining. Tim Ream displayed his distribution skill in the 14th minute when he sent a ball long to Thierry Henry which found him behind Ethan White and through on goal. Bill Hamid was quick off his line and Henry tried to chip him, but his effort went over. DC had a similar chance when Simms found Pontius on a long ball on the right side of the goal, but his first touch let him down and he was unable to test Greg Sutton.
The best chance of the half came two minutes before the break. Charlie Davies beat Tim Ream for pace and picked up a through ball. He went to his left and rounded the keeper Sutton. Davies angle was not great and he passed the ball towards goal but Ream never gave up and was able to clear the ball off the line. Similar runs behind by Davies opened up a lot of room for DeRosario and Wolff to collect the ball and find space in front of the Red Bulls center backs.
DC Takes the Lead and Holds onto It
The lone goal came from nowhere in the 61st minute. New York cleared the ball to the halfway line after a DC corner kick. Kitchen collected the ball and found Najar on the right touchline. Najar slided the ball inside to DeRosario, who let it roll by him and sprinted towards goal. The dummy caught McCarty and Miller off guard and DeRosario found space on the right side of the box. Wolff gave the ball to DeRosario and he buried it low with his left foot off the left post and in.
After the goal, DC knew exactly how to kill off the game. Olsen brought on Joseph Ngwenya and he did well to hold possession and find space to possess the ball. New York was unable to rally and create another chance to level the match.
New York created some decent chances, mostly from Henry’s creativity. However, they were not effective enough in attack for a few reasons. First, Dane Richards was not involved enough in the match. He did not trouble the susceptible Daniel Woolard by running at him with the ball or trying to get in behind the left back. Richards received little service all night.
Second, New York lacked width in their attack. Solli and Miller did not get forward and overlap as often as they normally do. Also, Lindpere and Ballouchy were often tucked inside and close to each other which made their roles easy to defend. In total, Lindpere, Ballouchy, Richards, Solli and Miller only combined to make eleven crosses from open play, with only two being successful. Hans Backe will have to make adjustments to his formation this week if they are to advance in the US Open Cup on Tuesday at Chicago and then travel to Chivas on Saturday.
DC, on the other hand, will be thrilled with the road victory over their Conference leaders. Ben Olsen has successfully brought in DeRosario to the starting XI. Davies gave Tim Ream and Carles Mendes something to worry about as he lurked on their shoulders looking to latch on to through balls. Najar’s traits of releasing shots from anywhere and his speed to create space trouble MLS defenders. Olsen will also be happy that DC was able to kill off the game by holding onto the ball. Joseph Ngwenya was brought on and did a great job linking up with DeRosario and finding space to hold the ball.
Centered around DeRo, DC’s new possession based style has helped their ‘no-name’ defense cope with attacking threats. Kitchen and Woolard sniffed out the threats out wide whilst White and McDonald did well to step in front of shots and clear the ball away from danger. It must be noted that Bill Hamid and Clyde Simms also deserve credit for the clean sheet and create almost a defensive back six. Simms did well to pick up the ball and find DeRosario to launch an attack. Hamid only made four saves, but is so quick off his line to collect through balls behind the back four. With their recent acquisition, look for DC to climb up the table and into a playoff position in the near future.
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