Anatole Abang’s winner comes too little too late for the New York Red Bulls as they won the second leg of the Eastern Conference Finals 1-0 over the Columbus Crew SC, but lost the series 2-1 on aggregate. The Red Bulls played decently all night, but didn’t pressure with the intensity that they needed to in order to win this game and alas they didn’t. It did appear that the Red Bulls didn’t want it as badly as the Crew did and they were playing like they had the advantage and the Crew were down trying to comeback, especially in the first half.
The game was supposed to start at 7:30 pm eastern time, but was delayed until about 8:00 pm eastern time, because the MLS noticed it took people a long time to get into the game in Dallas due to the new security measurements MLS instituted. At about 7:30 there were still a lot of Red Bulls supporters outside waiting to get in so the game was pushed back to allow people more time to enter the stadium.
The Red Bulls had one shot on goal in the first half, which is not even close to enough when you are down 2-0 and in desperate need of a goal. They finally got a goal from second half substitute Abang scored in the 93rd minute. About a minute later, Bradley Wright Phillips headed the ball past Columbus Crew Soccer Club goalie Steve Clark and it hit the post. The ball was approximately two inches away from the goal line and sending the game into extra time. The game got chippy in the middle of the first half as there was some considerable pushing and shoving and Tony Tchani head butted Sascha Kljestan of the Red Bulls, but there was no card or call.
The Red Bulls 2nd half was much better than their first half, but still obviously not good enough. They had 17 shots in this game, six on goal, after getting only one shot on goal in the first half. Columbus only had one shot off target while the Red Bulls had nine, and that really was the difference between these two teams. The Red Bulls were given two yellow cards by the referee Baldomero Toledo, compared to one for the Crew.
Prior to the game at halftime of the other conference finals game between FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers, the MLS Best XI was announced and four players who played in this game were announced on the team. 2015 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year winner Luis Robles was the starting goalie. The midfielders involved in this game were aplenty on the starting MLS XI as Red Bulls Captain Dax McCarty was named to the MLS best eleven. Along with McCarty, Ethan Finlay and 2015 MLS Golden Boot winner Kei Kamara were named to the MLS Best XI, as the Crew’s representatives.
The Men In Blazer’s described the game rather spot on, on twitter saying, “Red Bulls game a mix of frenzied football, dodgy decision making, and erratic refereeing. Impossible to take your eyes off.” After the game the New York Red Bulls tweeted out, “FULLTIME: A fight to the end in front of the best support, all in RED.” The Columbus Crew tweeted, “FT: YESSSSS!!! 2015 @MLS Cup, here we come! #CrewSC #ForColumbus.”
In the postgame, the Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch talked about the end, and how great a season it was. According to the Red Bulls twitter Marsch said, “I’m proud of my team. Proud of our guys. Proud to be their coach. I couldn’t have asked for more from these groups of guys. After the game, I told them that I was proud to be their coach. I love this team. In every way, this has been a magical season.”
The 2015 MLS Cup is going to be next Sunday at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio as the Columbus Crew host the Timbers, looking for their first MLS Cup win since they beat the Red Bulls in the MLS Cup in 2008. The Timbers are looking for their first MLS Cup in franchise history.