Zlatan Is Great, But Isn't Good Enough

Taking a cue from "I Am The Greatest," (Muhammad Ali), soccer's self-proclaimed great one player came to visit Red Bull Arena on Saturday.

Greatness aside, the LA Galaxy were defeated 3-2 by the NY Red Bulls.
Scoring Summary:
NY - Amro Tarek 1 (unassisted) 15'
LA - Uriel Antuna 2 (Ibrahimovic, Polenta) 39'
LA - Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Pontius, Polenta) 43'
NY - Marc Rzatkowski 1 (Lade) 59'
NY - Derrick Etienne, Jr. 1 (Royer, Fernandez) 67'

Misconduct Summary:

New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles ©; Amro Tarek (Derrick Etienne, Jr., 64'), Kemar Lawrence, Aaron Long, Tim Parker, Alex Muyl (Omir Fernandez, 54'), Connor Lade, Sean Davis, Daniel Royer (Andreas Ivan, 78'), Marc Rzatkowski, Brian White


LA Galaxy: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Diego Polenta, Daniel Steres, Diedie Traore (Juninho, 83'), Chris Pontius, Joe Corona, Uriel Antuna (Emmanuel Boateng, 76'), Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget, Zlatan Ibrahimovic ©


Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referees: Adam Wienckowski, Jose Da Silva
4th Official: Rosendo Mendoza
VAR: Silviu Petrescu

Attendance: 20,128

In a back-and-forth match, Derrick Etienne, Jr. found the game-winning goal in the 67th minute to lead the New York Red Bulls (3-4-2, 11 pts) past LA Galaxy (7-1-1, 22 pts), 3-2, on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. New York earned their first win over LA at Red Bull Arena since 2013.

The Red Bulls have strung together back-to-back league wins for the first time in 2019.
New York had five Academy Products featured in the win, three in the Starting XI and two coming on as subs.

Marc Rzatkowski swung in a free kick into the box for Brian White to chip behind him into a crowded box. Amro Tarek picked up the loose ball and finished to the near post for the 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.

Late in the first half, Uriel Antuna and Zlatan Ibrahimovic tallied back-to-back goals in a four-minute span to grab the 2-1 lead at the half.

Rzatkowski tied the match up in the 59th minute after a cross into the box from Connor Lade.

Minutes later, Daniel Royer connected with Omir Fernandez, who found Etienne, Jr. open in the middle of the box. Etienne, Jr. slotted home the eventual game winner in the 67th minute.

Tarek scored his first goal as a Red Bull and second career MLS goal overall.

Rzatkowski tallied his first league goal of the season and third career MLS goal.

In his 55th minute of play this year, Etienne, Jr. recorded his first goal of 2019 and sixth career MLS goal. The Patterson, N.J. native tallied his fourth career MLS goal as a sub.
Royer, Fernandez and Lade all tallied assists today.

Fernandez recorded his first career MLS assist, while Lade tallied his first league assist of 2019 and ninth career.

Lade (1g, 1a) and Royer (2a) both have tallied points in back-to-back matches. Lade record points in back-to-back matches for the first time in his career.

Luis Robles made three saves en route to his 104th career MLS win. Robles moved into a tie with Stefan Frei for eighth all-time in league history.

Kemar Lawrence played his 100th career MLS match.

Head coach Chris Armas moved to 15-7-5 overall in MLS regular-season matches and 11-3-0 in league home games. Armas jumped into sole possession for sixth all-time in franchise wins with 15.

New York is 49-43-23 all-time in the month of May. New York has scored 177 goals in May and allowed 164.

New York concludes their three-match homestand on Wednesday, May 8 against the Montreal Impact.

Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. ET with coverage on MSG, MSG Go and New York Red Bulls Radio on TuneIn.


It felt, at least from the outside looking in, that this was one of those games that was worth more than three points, the way you had to battle back, the quality of the Galaxy, did you get that feeling, as well, especially coming off winning at Cincinnati, building momentum.

Momentum's important, as we've experienced one way, the momentum of it, when you lose a few. You know, sticking to it is the key. Believing what you're doing. Believing in the work. Guys sticking together. Staff working hard.

So yes, putting a couple of wins together, wins at home, rewards the players -- I wish it was worth more than three, but take the full three. Wasn't easy. We knew we were playing a good team. Many, many good attackers and we knew that it would look something like that. You can't draw the script beforehand, but it was full belief at halftime that our guys could not just battle back, but win the game.

For the second straight game, the body language -- looks like a stronger commitment from the team. What's changed in the last week?

I think it goes back further than that. I see other games where on the outside, of course, we're in the business of getting results and we need to get results. On the outside, when you don't get results, you know, you're open to some of the criticism or what has been said about our group.

Our guys have used that. It's propelled them to stick together because on the inside of our walls, again, we believe in what we're doing. If you look at the New England game, it's in the balance and it's there. Get some chances, two shots on goal and we don't get the result.

In Kansas City, we go down a goal and I saw a team stick together, come back, go ahead and with two minutes to go, have a corner kick.

So we've been seeing this come for a bit, and we've been sticking to it. So it's not that surprising to me. It's great. It is great, again, because it justifies the hard work the players are putting in and the long hours the staff is putting in. It's nice to get another victory here at home.

How important was it for Derrick, even though he scored the match winner on Wednesday, and he gets the match winner today against the Galaxy?

It's really important for the team. And for Derrick, it's another big step for him. He keeps growing and what folks don't get to see is he puts in a lot of work every day. He embraces the opportunities of the USL team and Red Bull II, which is an amazing situation with John Wolyniec and his staff and what they are doing.

But our supporting director shows up at those games, doesn't miss one. He tells our staff: Listen, I'll come back with the info. Our staff go and watch those guys, we root for those guys, and it's not easy for John to manage that because we sometimes are giving him guys, late notice or whatever. But all those guys know that that's where Aaron Long started and we're watching and that's a platform.

So for Derrick, to see him take those games serious -- then it's not such a surprise. They are getting these real reps. And then just to see Derrick get rewarded with the work he's put in and a big goal, and we know he loves those moments, and he's built for those moments.
But before he went in, we talked quickly about real plays, things that are going to hold up in real games. This is the message and the icing on the cake is that goal for him.

Speaking about Aaron -- took two shots today -- is he okay? Why did that happen from your vantage point, because it looked like -- well, obviously those were two terrible shots.

Listen, you know, he takes a couple of shots to the head. We have VAR and not have to wonder about it. Actually looked at the plays, seemed like it was a case that it was a big guy when he goes up, the elbows are just higher than normal and not as tall of a guy. I mean, you're assuming that those players were fair, just a little unlucky. How he stuck it, wasn't too bad, and had a solid performance back there. It's a tough matchup. It's a tough matchup. Our guys held up and won the battle.

You talk about your team feeding off the energy in the stadium. It was a very loud, passionate fans, both Red Bull fans and even the L.A. fans upstairs, very loud. What does that do to the team and how does that energize play on the field?

It can go both ways, right. When the lights come on, there's people there and yeah, how do you show up in those moments? What does that do to you, and after you get through some nerves and energy. But I think we can see our guys used it to our advantage. We had a great start. We had control of the match. We scored a second goal, take it back, fair enough.

The momentum shifted in the first half, but I mean, look at -- it shows a lot about our team. You know, our energy in this building, it's loud. Our supporters, they come out, they are loud. They are supportive. It think it's a testament to the guys that we use the energy of the crowd, and we needed it in the second half. There was no doubt that our guys were going to put a lot into it and push it the right way.

How do you use this to move on to Montreal?

Yeah, we use every game as a chance to get out there and make progress. We have work to do. You know, we won't get too ahead of ourselves. It's a good win. It's a big win, and that means a lot to the guys, because you can't -- how can we give that to the guys without them feeling that and experiencing that, and they took it away from them. That's how you gain confidence and that's how you gain self-belief that you can battle the best and you can beat the best, right. That's how it goes.

Our guys, they are No. 1. Like they think that, you know, we walk around like we -- sure, we work like we're No. 2 but we have belief that we can go far.

So there's work to do. The guys even said in the huddle, there's work to do and we know it. There's so many areas you can get better. Against the ball, with the ball, can we keep it a little more, can we be aggressive still in what we do, moving the back line. There's so many details.

So we'll use this to help us gain some confidence and it's learning tools for the next one. We love that it's quick ones back-to-back. Let's keep it going.


On scoring the game-winner:

It felt good to contribute to the team. Two wins in two games, that's the best thing you can do. And then two goals on two games is another thing. But like I said most important thing is the win. The Galaxy is a very good team, they showed that and we did our best to try to quiet them. We did very well, in the beginning, pressing them. It felt like our pressure was on. And then towards the end, they were able to get out of it. And you saw just how good Zlatan is with the ball. So our mentality was, to go back down and contain them in the first half and continue to put pressure on them and the plays will come and they were able to fall first in the second half.

On his thoughts subbing in:

I just want to help the team any way I can. Whether that's tracking back, defending, getting goals, getting assists, killing time, anything you can do to help the help the team get the win is the most important thing. So we always talk about starters and being the tanks, and then the guys coming off the bench, you're going to know what to do when they get on the field. And I think that was a prime example for today.

On changes in the second half:

I don't know, I really couldn't tell you. I think we have to look at back at that film and see exactly what happened. But like I said, they’re a really good team. And we put our pressure in here, we're able to get it towards the end. But then we just had to fix a couple of things and get back out in the second half. And I think it worked very well for us.

On scoring in big moments:

I think it's every kid's dream to be in the backyard, and your dad or your brother and someone's crossing the ball in and your three, two, one goal and you win the game. It’s just trying to be ready for those moments. If it happens, it happens. If not you learn from it. So it’s just trying to be there and be ready for the team and be whatever the team needs me to be.

On building off of this win:

Just continue on the way we’ve been going. Playing with Red Bulls two and having some good games and goals there. So, just continuing what that's like three games in a row with goals. You're trying to continue to be on that. But like I said, the individual stats will come with team performances. So the better we are, the better the players.


On the significance of today’s win:
It was really big and I’m really proud of the whole team because I think we deserved to win today, and against Cincinnati. We were struggling a little bit in the season but we always believe in ourselves and I think we did a great job today. We were 2-1 down at halftime. I think Chris, our coach, did a great job at halftime that we have to believe in ourselves, that we are better than LA and I think overall we deserved to win today. It was a good game for the whole crowd, for all of our fans that were here, it was an amazing atmosphere. So, I’m really happy.

On the team’s character:
I would say that the character of our team is to improve ourselves to the best we can. I can see the guys every day working in training and in the gym, trying their best to do better than we did in the earlier games in the season. I’m really proud and I know what we can do in the season. Maybe for a lot of people in the league, LA is the best team in the league, in the ranking, and we just believe in ourselves and we know what we can do. We know our quality. We work hard and we’ll try to keep going after winning two in a row. We’ll try to do a better job on Wednesday and win again.

On turning things around in the second half:
Like I mentioned before, Chris did a good job at halftime. We watched our plays on our screen here and what we could do better and it was a very close game. He just said that we have to believe in ourselves, that we don’t want to go out there and tie that game but we want to win the game. That was our mentality and we did a great job in the second half to turn the game around.


On defending a player like Zlatan:
He’s one of the best in the league and in the world. So you just you just have to prepare to do your best.

On rallying to get the win:
I think also we are one of the best teams in the league. We just have to build on this and to keep going and to actually do better than they did last season. So I think this is a challenge now.

On the result changing perspective of RBNY:

I know people will keep talking about a lot of things outside but I think inside we really believe in ourselves. We are very strong team and are very strong to play against. So we never have a doubt.

On getting a goal:

I think my first job is to get the shot out and not consider the goal but it's always something good and it's a plus to score a goal. So I'm really happy about it.

On the game:
I think New York didn’t play better than us. I think we had to get something, even I think even the third goal was a very irregular situation because it's very clear the New York player is off-side, but soccer is like that sometimes. Sometimes you win, you can tie, you can lose, but we lost and we need to recover the three points next Wednesday in Ohio.”

On the Red Bulls pressure:
They pressured but they never tried to play – when they got the ball, they just played long ball and it was complicated for them in the first half. In the last minutes of the first half, we figured it out, we tried to play, and get the ball back behind New York’s defensive line, and we scored. We started to win the game, but in second half, they pressured but they didn’t play much better than us and they found the goals.

On Zlatan Ibrahimović’s performance today:
He scored and he got an assist on the first goal. You know, when he has the ball, he's really good. He makes a difference, and we [weren’t able to] take advantage of his level today.

Following questions translated from Spanish

On the game:
“New York pressured us, and they found goals via long balls and not by playing the game. We could have scored two goals that hit the post and tied the game but sometimes things don’t work out and I think on New York’s third goal there’s a clear offside by the player and regretfully VAR didn’t see it.”

On whether he was surprised by the Red Bulls’ performance:
“We knew they were team with a lot of experience that was going to pressure us a lot and that’s how they played. We were unfortunately not able to hold the result when we were winning, and the goal post didn’t allow us to tie the game when we were losing.”

On returning to Columbus:
“It’s nice to return to Ohio where I played for four years. The truth is it will be a nice return but right now I am only thinking about today’s game.”

On Diego Polenta’s performance:
“I think we all tried to play. With Polenta or with other defenders we tried to come out playing from the back and we knew that those long balls were going to cause New York more trouble because it’s a team that pressures a lot.”

On takeaways from this match:
“I don’t think you can take away much because more than being able to play Wednesday and securing three points then, we left three points here today and I don’t think we deserved losing. We always want to play well and win, not just one or the other. Today we were able to play our game during some moments and we didn’t during others. We weren’t able to hold the result in our favor and that hurts.”


On how he feels:

I feel good. Obviously, we lost the game. If you look at the result, it’s not a good result for us but I think we did a good game overall. Some mistakes – we missed good chances, good opportunities and yeah. But whatever I say here, still, we lost the game and three points for them.

On his personal performance:

We lost the game. It doesn’t matter what I did.

On what the Red Bulls did to make the game difficult:

We missed a lot of chances. If we would’ve scored, we would’ve won. But they didn’t make it difficult for us.

On what MLS needs to do to match the level of the world’s best leagues:

I think that takes time. It’s a progress. It’s all about step-by-step and I’ve said many times, with all these rules in MLS it’s not easy but I’m here to help, to make it visible in the whole world. So, we keep going, we work hard for it but I need to worry about Galaxy not about MLS.

On what keeps him motivated to continue playing:

I never lost the passion for what I do. I see many players out there that get big contracts, they lose their (sense of) reality when they go on social media and all that, and then they lose the passion for what they do. Me, I never lost that. I never have.

On if the galaxy could have played more direct:

Not our game. We played a very good game. In the second, we lost some positioning when considering the goals and we hit the post. We had a lot of chances we should have scored on. Sometimes this happens and you have to learn from it and move onto the next game. And to keep working and trying and then you get credit back for it.

On being compared to Messi and Ronaldo:

I’ll take it as a complement. As long as I play and I do get results and I perform, I will still play. The day I don’t do it, I will stop.

On if he is still having fun:

I’m enjoying it. Most importantly, I feel good physically and as long as I feel good, I can’t worry about what I do on the field. I am confident and I just need to stay physically good and enjoy the game.

[Translated from Spanish]

“In the end their goal was a little bit lucky, it was a rebound. I think most goals were more of our fault than their doing, but in the end this loss will help us learn from our mistakes. I don’t think they played a better game than us. I think the team tried hard until the last minute. In the end, we don’t like losing but we have another important game on Wednesday and we hope to get a victory then.”

On how the season is going overall with new technical staff:
“It’s going good, the truth is I am very comfortable. We are all very committed to our head coach and staff. Whatever he asks for I think we are doing. The team is enjoying and having fun playing – it’s not like last year where we got to every game worried and not knowing how we were going to do. We didn’t know if we were going to tie or lose and now we go into games confident knowing we will win. It’s true every game is different and we always know we could win the game. But in the end today they played their game, they fought, and they took the victory.”

On what the team can improve on:
“I think it’s the little details that in the end it’s what changes the games. We also needed more ball possession and to finish the opportunities we had on goal. We had the option to tie or win the game but, in the end, I am happy with the team because we fought until the end. We wanted to win. We are sad for the loss, but the team is on the right path and we just have to continue to work hard.”

[Translated from Spanish]

On his outstanding performance and feelings about the game:
“I felt good, but this is a team effort. I leave sad because of the loss. The personal and individual aspect doesn’t matter in the game. This is a team, it’s group. We faced a rival that made things difficult for us. We still have a long road ahead and we must get better and follow the path we were on because it was the right one. After a loss I am always sad. I don’t like to lose, and I don’t think the team likes to lose either. Soccer is like that. We have a rematch on Wednesday against another great team and we have to try and rest and go win the next game.”

On what Red Bulls did well today:
“They pressured the ball well. It’s a team that played well but it was an even match. If you watch the whole game I don’t think we deserved to lose. In many moments of the game they pressured well and that’s what helped them.”

On whether this was the game the LA Galaxy expected:
“Yes, it’s what we expected. Obviously, it’s a rival that fought back the whole game. We also didn’t have the best afternoon either.”

On living in Los Angeles and thoughts on MLS:
“The truth is the league has really impressed me – it’s a league that’s growing. You can win or lose against anyone and that’s great because it’s a very competitive league. And about the city, the truth is I am very happy, continuing to adapt to a city that’s welcomed me in the best way.”

Last edited by Dave Birnbaum; 05/06/19 01:00 PM.