John Tolkin, celebrating the Red Bulls’ win: “Obviously, we don’t like them very much and wherever you can get an edge obviously we’re gonna take it. ” (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
The Red Bulls are such a chippy team they even foul each other in the locker room.
When goalkeeper Carlos Coronel entered the room at Red Bull Arena a little late after they team defeated 10-man New York City FC, 3-0, on Wednesday night, he kicked a water bottle into the face of defender John Tolkin.
“I’ll let it go,” Tolkin said.
The hosts made life miserable for the Cityzens in the third Hudson River Derby of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup quarterfinal by fouling them all over the field. Their physical play was evident in the final statistics. The Red Bulls out fouled City, 23-16.
“We’re a bit of a chippy, scrappy team,” Tolkin said. “Obviously, we don’t like them very much and wherever you can get an edge obviously we’re gonna take it. I think we got in their heads a little bit. They kind of lost it. It’s simple things like that. They add up over time. We ended up winning this game. So it’s a good night.”
For the Red Bulls, yes, NYCFC, no.
Thiago Andrade was given his marching orders in the 62nd minute for head-butting Sean Nealis. The score at the time was 1-0. Trying to overcome a one-goal deficit by playing a man down is a tall task, if not an impossible one.
“The red card we took was a big change in the game and we cannot put all the blame on this but I think obviously 10 against 11 away against Red Bull, it’s not easy to win games,” NYCFC defender Maxime Chanot said. “After that I think we were willing to fight but I am very frustrated tonight because I believe we made it a very tough experience for us by getting the card and having to play after that.”
Asked about NYCFC’s lack of composure, interim head coach Nick Cushing responded: “Of course, we will talk about it because going down to 10 players isn’t ideal in this game. Derbies are highly charged games, emotional games, so we have to keep our discipline.”
Playing a chippy game is part of the Red Bulls’ DNA. They play a solid defensive game, but will do many things to throw their foes off their game.
Cushing saw it coming.
“I think these games are always like that,” he said. “We expected the game to be like that and we wanted to play football in the moments when we could play football. We wanted to try to exploit the spaces when we couldn’t. I thought we were in the game and we were having moments but I think their style disrupts games.”
Needless to say, Cushing wasn’t happy with the officiating – from referee Matthew Thompson the two assistant refs and the fourth official. He noted that yellow card tally at the half was 3-1 in favor of NYCFC, although the Red Bulls had accrued more fouls.
“I thought the game in general had a lot of fouls in it,” Cushing said. “I was disappointed we were three yellow cards to one in the first half when their foul count was a lot higher than ours. I thought the game was very disruptive but I mean that’s the second game on the run where I feel that teams have come and disrupted our rhythm and our flow by regularly fouling. So I said it in the last game, we take it as a compliment. Maybe tonight is a reflection of what can happen if this is consistent.”
Added Chanot: “The game today was not played on the football side but the way people reacted and the way people act outside of playing football. That’s why I’m frustrated a bit about that but credit to them. The referee did not help us but we are mature enough to not completely blame it on referee decisions.”
FOR YOUR SUMMER READING: A book about the highs and lows of the Rochester Lancers