Red Bulls ride "bench guys" to a result

Missing seven key players, NY relies on solid defensive effort

It was the kind of game that the Red Bulls will walk away
from battered, bruised … and confident.

Saturday’s 0-0 tie at Columbus Crew Stadium was always a
match in which the odds were stacked against New York. Missing four
starters due to international call-ups from the season opening win last
Saturday, New York was also without captain Thierry Henry and goalkeeper Greg
Sutton due to injury.


Couple that with backup goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul called
away to his national team and the Red Bulls were missing seven players who
could have been penciled into their starting XI.

So a scoreless tie on the road with a rookie goalkeeper and
a depleted lineup is something New York will take to the bank.

“It’s not like we’re lacking as a team in confidence but
this is a good result for us,” defender Stephen Keel told “To
come on the road, missing six, maybe seven starters and get a result is a
positive for us.”

Keel did not play last weekend in the Red Bulls’ season
opening win over Seattle but he found out on Tuesday that he would be a starter
for the road game in Columbus. All week long he maintained that the back line would work
together to stay tight and maintain their shape against the Crew.

Despite the final result, the match was tilted in favor of the home side. New York registered just one shot inside the 18-yard
box while Columbus registered eight shots in the area. And given the fact that New
York was starting Alex Horwath, their third string goalkeeper, it was a good
effort by New York.

“If you look at all the factors, today we were missing our
captain and our two starting center backs among others," Keel said. "We just wanted to come
in here, stay compact and keep everything in front of us. First
and foremost we needed to keep a clean sheet and we did that.”

But Keel and his teammates could well be called upon several
other times this season as Saturday’s match in Columbus won’t be the last time
that New York gets hit with international call-ups. With the Gold Cup this
summer potentially taking away as many as six Red Bulls from the squad for a
period of a month, manager Hans Backe will be forced to utilize his squad's depth to
win games and churn out results.

“There were 10 reasons why we shouldn’t have a result here,”
Keel said. “We feel that we’re a deep enough team that we could come in here
and the bench guys, the depth guys, could come in and get three points or a
point from the match.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at