Both teams needed a win entering Sunday’s win. The Red Bulls have struggled on the road in recent times; three points were a must at home. The Galaxy were coming off of a game in which their captain, Jelle Van Damme, was pulled within the first 40 minutes, and they sputtered to a 2-2 draw.
The Galaxy got the fast start that they needed.
In the eighth minute, LA won a free kick from the right wing. Roman Alessandrini curled a lefty inswinger through the box, and the ball went untouched into the side netting of the far post.
“Alessandrini played a dangerous ball, [Jelle] Van Damme makes a good run, and as he was cutting across I saw him come across and I thought one hundred percent he’s going to touch this, and he just dummied it and that caused me to freeze for a half second…he’s about 4 yards away, it’s one of those things where if he touches it I have to react,” Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles said after the game.
The new Galaxy signing from Marseille doubled his tally only a minute later. After playing a ball wide to Dos Santos from the middle of the field, Alessandrini ran into the box and fired the return pass right at Robles. The Red Bulls goalkeeper got something on the shot but it was too powerful for him to keep out of the goal.
Van Damme was satisfied with his team’s strong start.
“I think we started very strong, we went after them, and I think with an away game on the road, it’s all about mentality,” the Belgian defender said after the game. “I think we showed up today.”
New York captain Sacha Kljestan was obviously less enthused with how the beginning of the game went.
“The first 20 minutes of the game, we come out and we play like an amateur team. It’s hard to explain, I think some guys are lacking in confidence right now,” the midfielder said. “Physically, in the first 20 minutes of the game, we lost every battle.
“[Head Coach] Jesse [Marsch] was hard on us at halftime, and I felt he could have been ten times harder because it was a bit embarrassing the way we played today, and I feel bad for the fans.”
Red Bulls’ head coach Jesse Marsch replaced Alex Muyl with Mike Grella at halftime, hoping to spark the team’s sputtering offense to life. The substitution shifted Daniel Royer to the right wing, and that almost paid immediate dividends. In the 48th minute, Royer cut past Ashley Cole in the box and was taken down, but the referee decided not to award a penalty.
The next penalty decision went against the Red Bulls as well. In the 78th minute, Mike Grella took down Alessandrini in the 18-yard box, and referee Jose Carlos Rivero awarded a penalty kick. Giovani Dos Santos stepped up and sent Robles the wrong way, extending his team’s advantage to 3-0.
New York did find a consolation goal, even though it was too little too late. In the 93rd minute, a low Kemar Lawrence cross from the left wing found its way to Royer at the far post. The Dane fired his sliding shot into the roof of the net seconds before the sound of the final whistle pierced through the spring air.
Wright-Phillips was not satisfied with the team’s offensive performance.
“We didn’t create much as a team, as a team we didn’t put them under enough pressure for us to score and create good chances,” Wright Phillips said. “We had enough possession, but we didn’t create enough chances.”
Mike Grella minced fewer words after the game.
“I see a lot of guys playing timid and that is one thing that is unacceptable around here,” the halftime substitute lamented.
For Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo, it was a good day at the office.
“It was a warrior mentality, and an important three points for our psyche and our confidence,” Onalfo said after the game.