Nick and Gregg here to break down all the goals from this weekend's match. Nick gets the defense while Gregg handles the offense. Here we go! 1-0 Fire lead
I didn't bother to screen cap Harrison Shipp's first goal. This should have been disallowed. Mike Magee is clearly in an offsides position interfering with Luis Robles. The referee got this one wrong and in a big way.
Yes, Gregg, but in my opinion Jamison Olave clearly took out Magic Middleit with a slide tackle in the box and should have been called for a penalty seconds before the goal. Seems like scoring from an overlooked offside call is more likely than from the penalty spot, so good for us.
However, if we're talking likely goals, we must mention Fire goals conceded from the right side by way of cross. Lovel Palmer proved to be a bit of a liability on the right side last week by conceding time and space to opposing attackers sending in crosses. This time he commits a mortal sin for any defender by conceding possession in the defensive third.
Red Bulls level 1-1
Palmer recovers well keeping very tight to Alexander not letting him turn or cross, just shepherding him into negative space. Palmer's pace allows him to knock the ball into touch giving the defense time to drop back, mark up, and defend a throw in deep in the defensive area.
Alexander takes the throw and plays a one-two with Roy Miller and the defense comes undone. 1. Nyarko closes down Miller too aggressively and is out of position to defend a return pass. 2. Jeff Larentowicz loses his positional advantage after Thierry Henry (at the top of his dark arts game this evening) does a bump and run giving himself the space to receive a cross in a dangerous position. 3. Joya finds himself in a difficult position to track his mark Dax McCarty or the immediate danger from Miller. 4. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado must now make himself aware of an impending through ball to Miller in addition to marking his zone to clear away near post crosses. 5. Palmer must close down Alexander's (assumedly) stronger right foot to block the cross trusting Hurtado to cover in case of a fake cross. If Palmer gives Alexander the endline, the only option the attacker has is to keep dribbling left footed or cross left footed.
Much like how the first Red Bulls goal originated, the Fire could have done plenty to prevent their second conceded goal of the match by not giving the ball away in a dangerous position again.
Red Bull take the 2-1 lead: The Ballad of Patrick Ianni
Central midfielders must remain composed on the ball in times of immediate pressure and find the safe pass to keep possession especially when the fullbacks move to an advanced position trying to find space for a forward pass (a.k.a. the critical Logan Pause skill). The Red Bulls pressed hard in the midfield, which the Fire handled well even springing Magee behind the defense narrowly missing an opportunity on goal right before calamity struck.
Shipp sends a pressured pass back to Joya who must navigate five Red Bull defenders with only three teammates to whom he can pass in the immediate vicinity. Note the positions of Bradley Wright-Phillips (grey #1) and Cahill (grey #4) as the jaws of the trap.
Joya safely turns away from the pressure to look for an easy pass just as expected. The jaws of the trap spring shut and close away two of the three immediate options with McCarty tracking down Shipp. The only place for Joya to go is back to the defense where Henry anticipates Joya's next move.
Henry intercepts Joya and immediately breaks on the counter running right at Hurtado. Not having the time to force Henry wide, Hurtado retreats dead on to Henry who has the angles to make all the decisions with the ball. Patrick Ianni must keep track of his two runners while being cognizant of the possibility Henry gets by Hurtado. Cahill and Wright-Phillips start running in divergent directions to maximize the 3v2 situation.
Sure enough, Henry gets by Hurtado with ease and hurtles forward at goal. Now would be a good time for Ianni to provide cover but Cahill and Wright-Phillips change their runs to give Ianni another decision to make: close down Henry or leave one of two men unmarked on the far post. It's a classic damned if you do whatever you decide to do. Hurtado sticks with Henry since it's not a guarantee Ianni will provide cover.
Hurtado can't close down Henry and as Henry prepares to cross, Ianni retreats to put himself in the best position as possible to mark two men on different runs. Cahill slows his run to provide an option atop the 18 yard box and to avoid Wright-Phillips' run to the far post.
Henry gets off his cross and Wright-Phillips buries it in the net. Ianni did an admirable job to block the shot and, I must suspect like Larentowicz last week, if he uses his left foot he would have a better chance to block the shot.
Still, Ianni did an incredibly admirable job to keep track of the two off the ball runners, position himself to provide cover and yet almost prevent the goal. Good work from a player I immediately wrote off as soon as I saw the trade to acquire him.
Alright, Gregg, I already wrote way too much about the defense going to hell. Why don't you remind us of the happier times from Saturday's game and what went right?
Fire level at 2-2 in the second half
Thanks Nick. Things indeed start to go much better after half. Quincy equalizes quickly in the second half. From Larentowicz? As you can see below Jeff is left in tons of space by the rather lackadaisical Red Bull defending. Quincy seizes upon the opportunity and asks for the ball.
Quincy and Jeff are on the same page as one great diagonal run later turns into the equalizer past a very surprised Luis Robles. Robles came out of his net to handle what looked like an errant cross and ends up in no man's land. You will note that Jamison Olave does not run with Quincy even though he initially has a better defensive angle.
3-2 Fire take the lead
Minutes later Harry Shipp puts the Fire ahead on a play where he rightly shouldn't have. First off Amarikwa's excellent effort allows him to get the ball deep into the offensive third. Armando thinks he has control of the ball but Nyarko is there to disrupt things. There were three other options, not including the goalkeeper, for him to pass the ball to.
Well look at that the totally wrong decision was made and now Nyarko has taken the ball!
Still it looks like the Red Bull has the defensive upper hand. That upper hand is eliminated as Quincy makes a run towards the near post. He takes two defenders with him. Armando still has not gotten up from his rather speculative dive. Dax McCarty is trying to cover but the distance looks to be to far. Olave is far away and appears to be marking Magee? Who knows what Olave was thinking.
Olave steps up but it is too late as Shipp has taken a touch, driven forward and has the ball on his favored right foot. McCarty is also too slow to make up the space from behind. One nutmeg shot later and the Fire are up.
What another goal? Another one from Shipp? The heavens have opened up and produced a multitude of awesomeness! This one turns out to be another set up involving Jamison Olave. Magee is on Olave's back with Kimura waiting for Olave's pass. Quincy is camped out in the box and Shipp is moving towards Olave. This does not look threatening at first glance.
Olave does indeed dump the ball back to Kimura. Shipp is closing on him quickly. Kimura decides he can go around the young player. Not his finest moment.
Shipp wins the ball and is now moving towards goal with Kimura on his back. Olave hilariously just sort of half asses it after Magee. Quincy opts to move towards the spot in front of goal. This does three things. Offers a better target should Shipp decide to pass, forces his marker to stay put and opens up more space for Harry to operate in. Another positive movement from Quincy.
Shipp easily finishes past a rather snake bitten Robles. Kimura gave him far too much space to operate in and was unable to disrupt the shot in any fashion. He tries to use all of his dark arts but is unable to turn Shipp's shoulders before the shot is taken.
Patrick Nyarko gets a rather lucky goal on a mis-hit cross. Red Bull, a bit shell shocked at this point, have left Nyarko in space. Lots of it. He is looking to find Greg Cochrane on a run as Cochrane calls for the ball. Instead the ball goes in. As you can see below if Patrick hits the cross correctly a chance may have arisen. Cochrane is wide open and the Red Bull backline is laboring at this point.
Red Bulls pull one back to 5-3
You get all of the fun, Gregg, breaking down the goals everyone wants to see. Alright, here comes the stressful and frustrating part: almost losing a commanding 5-2 lead.
Where does it all go wrong? How did the Fire defense screw it to hell this time? Well, in my opinion, they don't.
This one starts out on the Fire's right (this has to be the weak spot scouted by every opposing team) with the Men in Red in a nine-man defensive posture. 1-4 are holding the front bank to resist any direct attacks from Johnny "Hard As" Steele, defenders 6-9 in the box to man mark or clear crosses and Joya (#5) to patrol the zone between the front bank and the box, covering the bank, clearing out any passes, or marking any runs. Everything looks tight, except, again, there's still too much space to cross.
Now the chaos begins. Wright-Phillips dummies the ball to Lloyd Sam and the defense remains disciplined, not over committing to any possible scenario. However, Cochrane is alone at the back post marking super jumper Tim Cahill and mountain of a man Jamison Olave. That's a bit concerning.
Sam chest traps the cross with a heavy touch. He reacts to recover his poor touch as Wright-Phillips readies to strike the shot. The defense is still in good position with Hurtado, Ianni, and Shipp forming a defensive shell with a window open through which Sean Johnson can see.
Wright-Phillips strikes, Ianni covers his junk, and Johnson has his near post covered. The defense is tight. Wright-Phillips just hits a helluva shot. All you can do is tip your hat and close down the cross.
Red Bulls convert from the spot for 5-4
Now we review one of the more frustrating goals to concede: goals from a throw in. Well, it's not directly from a throw in, but it created the opportunity for a penalty and some dark arts from Henry.
Henry posts up in the box and grapples with Hurtado for position. The wide angle is a little blurry, but there does appear to be some grabbing. Henry goes to ground and Hurtado is called for the peno. But the question at the time was how severe is the grabbing? Is Henry grabbing too?
Ah, yep. There's lots of grabbing. Hurtado has two arms around Henry's right shoulder and Henry grabs back. Is there enough contact for Henry to go to ground? That's a debate in ethics. Is Henry in position to play the ball and a victim of illegal contact from Hurtado? It's hard to say no. That's a debate of the law, and, unfortunately, Hurtado lost.
Wright-Phillips completed his hat-trick, but the real hat-trick hero was Harrison Shipp. It has to feel great to see a homegrown player make such a significant impact on the road in the team's first win of the season, isn't it, Gregg?
Damn right it is.