ANALYSIS – Back in Harrison following a rather disappointing road trip, the New York Red Bulls played to a 1-1 draw against Western Conference stalwarts the San Jose Earthquakes. The Red Bulls dominated the Earthquakes in previous matches but were much less successful last night. Here’s what we learned.
What We Learned: New York Red Bulls Draw Against Earthquakes
Settle Down, It’ll All Be Clear
With only three defenders in the starting lineup, the Red Bulls relied on their midfield to set the tempo on the pitch. Frankie Amaya, Kyle Duncan, Omir Fernandez, and Cristian Casseres Jr. often collected the ball from the Quakes in the opening half hour. San Jose defenders had to resort to back passes and sideline clearances. Attacker Dante Vanzeir, on his first start for RBNY, threatened the San Jose goal several times throughout his time on the pitch, but couldn’t settle the ball enough to bulge the net.
Just Know You’re Not Alone
Better connections across the pitch made for a stronger overall offense on the night than in recent games. New York was impressed with a pass accuracy of 73%, as compared to the Earthquakes with 66%. The Red Bulls also claimed 51% possession overall, which is unusual for the pressing team. Captain Sean Nealis indicated that being able to hold the ball is “something that we want to add to our game, an element that we want to improve on.”
READ MORE: Three Takeaways from Charlotte FC vs RBNY
The Trouble, It Might Drag You Down
Early in the second half, a verbal altercation grew physical. The play was stopped for over twenty minutes. Coaches and officials consulted multiple players and each other. Following the match, the referees explained the extended stoppage as follows: “A New York Red Bulls player was accused of using a racial slur towards a San Jose player. Neither the on-field officiating crew nor the video match officials could confirm this, so the proper protocols were utilized to inform the coaches and player involved, as well as the Match Director.”
In the post-match press conference, #RBNY manager Gerhard Struber confirms there was an allegation of racism during the match and that the team will cooperate with the league's investigation to reach a resolution.
— Sylvana B likes the football ⚽️ (@WhiteZinWench) April 9, 2023
There is no quarter given to racism in this game. San Jose Forward and executive member of Black Players for Change Jeremy Ebobisse was straightforward in his statement: “What we saw tonight should not be part of the game[… ]I know what I heard.” If Dante Vanzeir did indeed use a racial slur during the altercation, the punishment should be swift and severe. That ‘if’ is only because officials could not confirm the accusation at the moment. Vanzeir needs to come forward as soon as possible. Fans would rather see a losing team than win with someone who does not share their values.
Any momentum the home team had was diminished once the game resumed. San Jose striker Cristian Espinoza scored in the 81-minute after the lengthy pause in the match. However, with a staggering 21 minutes of stoppage time, RBNY was able to pull one back. A deflected shot came to substitute striker Tom Barlow, who buried it to level the match. It takes the record for the latest goal made in an MLS match (90 +17′). A salvaged point, but a lot of unanswered questions. But as Phillip Phillips said, if you get lost you can always be found.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) April 9, 2023
Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports on April 8, 2023, of a Tom Barlow Headshot.