Change is good, they said. Squad rotation is important they said. Well, Chris Armas was listening.
Coming off of a deflating 2-1 home loss to the Montreal Impact and facing a quick Wednesday to Saturday turnaround, the New York Red Bulls boss heard the advise and changed out an astonishing 10 members of his starting 11 for Sunday’s match in suburban Dallas.
Armas’ bold play worked a charm as the Red Bulls topped FC Dallas with a 3-1 victory Saturday afternoon at a sparsely populated Toyota Stadium.
Rotated squad rumbles to victory
Aaron Long figured to miss out after picking a hamstring injury of so-far indeterminate severity and Bradley Wright-Phillips has been day-to-day all along, but it was a surprise that Armas also left mainstays Luis Robles, Daniel Royer, and Marc Rzatkowski off the matchday 18 and back in the New York/New Jersey area.
The makeup of the Red Bulls bench was equally surprising, with the likes of Kemar Lawrence, Sean Davis, and Tim Parker cooling their heels alongside the surprise Red Bulls backup keeper Evan Lauro.
Dallas held the statistical edge in most categories against the Red Bulls on the night, but the visitors claimed an 11th minute lead when 19 – year old midfielder Cristian Casseres finished from Andreas Ivan the Red Bulls were on the way to winning the only statistical battle that matters, goals scored vs goals allowed.
That Red Bulls lead stood up for the first 45 minutes but the home team managed an equalizer before the halftime break, when Jesus Ferreira slipped away from Sean Nealis and found himself wide open in the Red Bulls box to head past Ryan Meara, deputizing for Luis Robles in the New York goal.
The goal is the fourth of this break out season for the 18 year old Ferreira, the son of former Dallas star, 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira. The younger Ferreira was widely tipped to earn a spot on the U.S. U20 World Cup side, but the citizenship papers for the Colombian born, Texas raised teenager apparently didn’t beat the FIFA clock.
So Ferreira will stay with FC Dallas while three of his teammates, Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Servania, and this year’s Cinderella story Edwin Cerrillo all head to Poland where the U.S will kick off on May 24th against Ukraine, followed by Group D matches versus Nigeria, May 27th, and finally Qatar on May 30.
With the match level heading to the final 45, Ferreira’s goal gave the home team a solid platform to press for the win. However, led by Meara, Armas’ band of backups first re-took and then added to the lead.
Michael Murillo, who just a couple of weeks ago would have been a member of the “A” team before some shoddy play saw the Panamanian international banished to the bench, thought he had the go-ahead goal. Replays showed that the ball skipped off of Nealis’ head for the 58th-minute tally.
Meara made that slim lead hold up, earning Man of the Match honors, with his standout moment coming in the 71st minute with spectactular diving save from Zdenek Ondrasek.
Brian White ended Dallas’ comeback hopes when he finished a nice one-two with Omir Fernandez in the 85th minute to ensure Dallas’s first home loss of the season.
For fifth place Dallas this game was a missed opportunity to make up ground on fourth place Houston, who dropped a 1-0 decision to Seattle on Saturday, while the Red Bulls resilience gets them back on track, just two points below the Eastern Conference playoff line.