Zlatan Ibrahimović came to town Saturday night and delivered a possible “tarp-out” to Red Bull Arena as the home team edged the Galaxy in a 3-2 thriller.
The match was played in front of the team’s largest crowd of the season, which saw the Red Bulls overcome a goal and an assist from Zlatan.
Whether the 20,128 attendance constitutes a reduced capacity sellout, or “tarp-out,” is difficult to say, given that we don’t know precisely how many of the arena’s 25,000 seats have been buried under the bright red tarpaulins that have recently sprouted across the upper deck at either end of the team’s Harrison, New Jersey stadium.
Whatever the exact percentage of seats filled was, and there appeared to many an unoccupied seat, the 20,128 announced attendance and the TV viewers at home were treated to an exciting match. Yes, a fair amount of those fans were on hand to cheer for the Galaxy’s flamboyant striker. Regardless, the home town fans had to be thrilled with the Red Bulls second consecutive home win.
Red Bulls fast start helps stifle hot Galaxy squad
The Red Bulls came flying out of the gate, dominating the early exchanges with an L.A. Galaxy side that entered the day with an impressive 7-1-1 record. The Red Bulls have been struggling, and with striker Bradley Wright-Phillips missing a second consecutive match with a soft tissue injury, the question of Red Bulls goals and where they might come from was an open one.
If you had Amro Tarek, Marc Rzatkowski, and Derrick Etienne, first time 2019 goal scorers all, for the Red Bulls goals then you probably had Country House winning the Kentucky Derby.
The Red Bulls were pressuring David Bingham’s goal from the start with Rzatkowski and Daniel Royer looking extremely likely in the opening minutes. The home team was rewarded when center-back Tarek blasted home in the 15th minute, a good goal from a surprising source.
L.A. center-back Diego Polenta saw Tarek’s goal and decided to show off his passing skills, twice sending delicate long balls over the Red Bulls defense to earn secondary assists with first-rate passes.
The first of Polenta’s elegantly struck chips landed at the feet of Ibrahimovic with the big man setting up Uriel Antuna perfectly for the 39th-minute equalizer. Just four minutes later a wide open Polenta sauntered into the New York half and then picked out Chris Pontius. The veteran attacker immediately fed Ibrahimovic for a diving header to give the visitors the lead just ahead of the halftime whistle.
It was a bit of a shock for New York but a pair of second-half goals from a couple of more unlikely sources wrested the points from the visitors and the victory to the home team. Etienne’s winner was subject to a VAR delay but the officials ruled that Brian White did not interfere with Bingham in the Galaxy goal.
Looking ahead to Wednesday’s Montreal Impact Match-Up
This second consecutive home win sets New York up nicely for Wednesday night’s showdown with Montreal Impact — the Red Bulls will look to close out a three-match homestand with a perfect 3-0-0 record.
The Impact sits in third place in the East with 17 points, six more than eight place New York. If Montreal talisman Ignacio Piatti remains sidelined, that can only help the Red Bulls chances of completing the home sweep.
Oddsmakers view the Red Bulls as heavy favorites, pricing them at -135 over at FanDuel Sportsbook NJ.
|NY Red Bulls -135||Draw +280||Montreal Impact +360|
Without looking past Montreal, the Red Bulls will surely be aware that following Saturday’s May 11th visit to Dallas FC, they return home for a pair of matches versus Atlanta United and Vancouver, making for five home games out of six, a stretch that could see the Red Bulls catapult themselves right into the heart of the Eastern Conference playoff race.