Aaron Long heads in lone goal in 1-0 Red Bulls win at Sporting KC

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Aaron Long headed in the deciding goal for the Red Bulls 1-0 win at Sporting KC. It’s their league-leading sixth road win of the season. After a tough first half in which they were outplayed, Gerhard Struber changed the system. Once that happened, the Red Bulls slowly gained momentum and eventually the goal came. On the flip side, the losses pile up for Sporting KC, and Peter Vermes who has now clinched 500 career games.

Aaron Long the difference for 10-man Red Bulls 1-0 win at Sporting KC

Team News

Peter Vermes makes just one change to the Sporting side that lost 3-0 at Seattle. Graham Zusi is out with a quad problem, teenager Kayden Pierre replaces him at right-back. The rest of the team remains unchanged. Veterans Roger Espinoza and Ben Sweat are on the bench. Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell and Khiry Shelton lead the attack.

For the Red Bulls, they too make a number of tweaks to the lineup that came back to beat Atlanta 2-1. Patryk Klimala has been benched, Tom Barlow leads the attack. Luquinhas returns to the starting lineup, with Lewis Morgan and Omir Fernandez on the wings. Dylan Nealis is back from yellow card accumulation suspension and is at right back, Tom Edwards is out with an ankle issue. Serge Ngoma, last week’s hero, is on the bench.

Sporting lineup (4-3-3): Tim Melia; Andreu Fontas, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Logan Ndembe, Kayden Pierre; Remi Walter, Felipe Hernandez, Cameron Duke; Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton, (C) Johnny Russell

KC subs: John Pulskamp, Ben Sweat, Kaveh Rad, Robert Vocoder, Oriol Rosell, Roger Espinoza, Marinos Tzionis, Jacob Davis

Red Bulls lineup (4-2-3-1): Carlos Coronel; John Tolkin, Aaron Long, Sean Nealis, Dylan Nealis; Frankie Amaya, Cristian Casseres Jr; Luquinhas, Omir Fernandez, Lewis Morgan; Tom Barlow

New York subs: Ryan Meara, Juan Castillo, Cameron Harper, Steven Sserwadda, Dru Yearwood, Patryk Klimala, Serge Ngoma

First Half: Sporting the better side, but it started scoreless

An early set piece chance a minute in, for Sporting just flew over the bar by Hernandez. Another shot, from a corner kick flew just above the net by Salloi. Gerhard Struber made his first sub just 26 minutes into the game, with Cameron Harper entering for Omir Fernandez. 

Sporting enjoyed much of their success down the left flank. That might’ve prompted Struber to change things. Shortly thereafter, the game was halted due to a weather delay. After the half-hour wait, the action resumed. 

The Red Bulls looked to have taken the lead, but Aaron Long was offside before Harper put it in the net. Russell had a great chance, with time and space to put KC into the lead. But Coronel was equal to it with a low save. No added time as the first half came to a close. The opening stanza was largely controlled by the home team, who did everything but score. The Russell chance was a big let-off for the Red Bulls. 

Seventeen fouls committed and surprisingly, there wasn’t a booking in the entire half by referee Marcos de Oliveira. Taking off Omir to change to a back-five system proved to be the right decision by Struber. It’s the system the team is most comfortable with. However, New York ended the half without a shot on target, KC outshot them ten-to-three. Sporting also enjoyed a 58%-42% possession advantage, and were easily the better side in the first 45 minutes.

Second Half: Aaron Long settles the game with a headed goal

The second half started lively. Numerous chances at either end for both teams, eventually the breakthrough came. The Red Bulls, off a short corner, grabbed the lead. Lewis Morgan whipped in a lovely cross that found the head of Aaron Long who headed at the near post. The captain’s third league goal of the season. 

Cameron Harper is the first player to receive a yellow card for a foul. Serge Ngoma came on for Morgan. Afterwards, the Red Bulls went down a man. Sean Nealis handled a ball with his hand near the edge of the area and was given a yellow card initially. The referee looked at the VAR monitor and declared it was DOGSO, and gave Sean a red card. He will miss the game at Cincinnati. 

Tolkin was booked with a yellow card for a foul on Russell. Frankie Amaya also was issued a yellow card. Marinos Tzionis entered the match for Hernandez late in the match for Sporting. The hosts nearly equalized from a set piece but the header was cleared off the line by Tolkin. After multiple stoppages, 100 minutes passed and the Red Bulls escape with a narrow 1-0 win.

Three Takeaways from Sporting KC vs New York Red Bulls

Red Bulls taste away success again. Make that now the sixth road win for the Red Bulls, most in MLS. This one was arguably the toughest, after a first half where they weren’t at the races. Losing Sean Nealis will sting a bit in their next game at FC Cincinnati. On another day, they could’ve easily lost this game. However, this team has showed grit and toughness to overcome. They did that, and remain one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

It’s just not going right for Sporting KC. Brutal the amount that has gone against them this season. Loss after loss, Vermes only made one substitution this game, such was how depleted the team was. They showed themselves well and should’ve taken the lead, but couldn’t get an equalizer after that. Who knows when the next victory will come.

Gerhard Struber went bold, and it paid off. The tactician took off Omir Fernandez early in the game, changed the system to a back-five and it reaped the rewards. A first win at Sporting KC since October 2014, when a certain Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a brace to reach 27 regular season goals, and clinch home-field advantage in the MLS playoffs. That went well. But as for this, Struber is showcasing himself as one of the league’s best managers. He’s got a really young team flying and doing things that weren’t expected of them.
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