Though not at their best, RSL still streaking
Even though Jason Kreis has admitted his squad has not played their best soccer over the last several weeks, RSL seemed to play with a little more verve in their scoreless tie with New York.
Besides, they stretched their unbeaten streak to 11 games at the newly minted Red Bull Arena against a potent New York side that's hitting its stride at just the right time.
“I think there are a lot of positives that we can take from [the game],” defender Robbie Russell told MLSSoccer.com.
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New York were able to stretch the RSL defense, attacking from a variety of spots on the field, but the backline did not break despite bending on a few occasions. Russell was tasked with one of the tougher marks in this game, as two-time FIFA Player of the Year nominee Thierry Henry spent a lot of time on the right side of RSL’s box.
“[Henry's] a very fast player," Russell said. "He’s lightning quick. He has great touch"
“I think it was one of those things where you don’t try to defend against Henry one-on-one — you try to defend as a unit and hope the whole team has the right spacing and the right movement so that you aren’t left alone with him, and you limit those chances," Russell added. "I think it was overall a great defensive play against a great attacking team with a lot of great attacking players.”
RSL did spend an unusual amount of time defending for a club that tends to maintain the bulk of possession. However, it was a fairly open game and RSL did get their chances.
The match brought to mind the 2008 Western Conference final that saw New York beat RSL, 1-0, at Rio Tinto Stadium. In that match, after going down a goal, they hit the post time and time again. In this one, they saw two go off the woodwork. One of those shots came off of the right foot of Russell.
“Right now it seems like I can’t buy a goal – I can’t buy a break," Russell said. "You’ve just got to keep plugging and hope one of them pulls out.”
The result keeps RSL’s road unbeaten streak alive at six games. However, it likely ends any serious shot that RSL has at the Supporters’ Shield as they are now four points behind the LA Galaxy with just two games remaining.
However, Russell still feels like they are in a good place.
“We’re a team that’s played a lot of games and done all kinds of traveling," he said. "It’s great that we’ve qualified for CONCACAF already. That gives us a little more time to rest over this last phase. We’re a team that’s going to start building for how we’re going to perform for the playoffs.”