Emil Forsberg had his best outing as a New York Red Bull on Saturday night.
The Swede’s brace helped lead his team to a 3-1 win over Charlotte FC on a rainy night.

The rematch of last year’s playoffs had the same offensive energy and result.

However, Saturday also included an hour-long rain delay and many wet dogs at Red Bull Arena.

Forsberg Goes Off, Reyes Capitalizes

Forsberg’s night against the top defense really started in the 74th minute. After a Charlotte foul just outside the box, earning Kerwin Vargas a yellow card, Forsberg and John Tolkin stepped up. JMi has experience scoring from this position, notably a free goal kick against CFC in last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs.

The defender initially looked to be going for the ball but walked over it, allowing Forsberg to strike a shot into the top left corner.

After the game, Forsberg joked that since JMi had already scored a free-kick goal against Charlotte, it was his turn. But he also said getting a goal after recent results was a huge positive.

“I’ve been waiting for that free-kick goal. I had some bad luck in some games, so (I) finally got in. An amazing feeling, of course,” Forsberg told the media afterward.

The feeling got even better two minutes later when a New York throw-in and eventual bad head clearance by Charlotte set up Lewis Morgan on the right side of the box. RBNY’s leading goal scorer went toward a goal before passing left to a wide-open Forsberg, who slotted in a shot past a diving defender and non-moving keeper.

On his sixth goal of the season, Forsberg commended his teammate for finding him. The international has put chances like this over the crossbar many times this season.

It felt great not just to score but to reward his teammate for the set-up.

“I just needed to put it in,” Forsberg said.

“Amazing work from Lewis [Morgan] seeing me. It’s a good feeling to score, but that goal is a great path from Lewis, so I could just put in.”

Reyes and Bender Capitalize

The game was officially iced in the 83rd minute. John Tolkin sent a corner kick into the crowded Charlotte box. Amongst a mass of bodies, defender Andrés Reyes had the ball fall to his feet. He lifted a shot into goal to make it 3-0.

Charlotte notched a consolation goal six minutes into stoppage time. Ben Bender scored his fourth ever goal against RBNY (he only has seven ever in MLS) to ruin Carlos Coronel’s clean sheet. Something the Paraguay national team player was furious about after the final whistle.

On a personal note, Bender played amateur soccer in the National Premier Soccer League for Christos FC. I had the chance to see him play in person, and his stellar stats against RBNY make me smile. I’d rather see the kid I know score in front of me than during highlights.

Boring First Half

Overall, the notion of “let’s not talk about the first half” was prevalent during the postgame media scrum. New York was outshot and out-possessed in the first 45 minutes. Missing lead center back Sean Nealis due to last game’s red card, Charlotte was looking to take advantage of Noah Eile and company on the backline.

New York was outplayed, plain and simple. One of the biggest moments of the half was Coronel going to head away a long ball. He fell to the ground, and Ryan Meara started to warm up. This was just over 10 minutes into the game. Coronel stayed in, seemingly dealing with shoulder discomfort, and made some critical saves in the first 45. Coach Schwarz did not seem to think there was anything to worry about with Coronel after the match.

However, the coach did note his team needs to work on controlling a game for the entire 90 minutes.

“This is the next step in our development, and now we’ve played 15 games, I think, but this is the next step to control the whole game, Schwarz said.

“In previous games, we had some moments which were then maybe 60 minutes, 65 minutes very well. But this is the next step, to control the whole game.”

The other moment of note in the first 45 minutes came at the end. Elias Manoel collided with Charlotte keeper Kristijan Kahlina going for the ball. The referee showed Manoel a yellow card, along with CFC defender Andrew Privett.

When asked about the ruling by NYCSN, the referee explained the goalkeeper got to the ball a split second ahead of Manoel. He also said Privett was an instigator and was shown a yellow for it

Rain but Good Vibes

As the first half neared its end, dark clouds rolled over Harrison. Rain began to fall slowly before picking up in intensity. By the time the six minutes of stoppage time were complete, the PA announced a weather delay due to lightning was going into effect.

What followed was an hour-long delay, with fans taking shelter in the concourse of Red Bull Arena. This included multiple dogs, as the team was holding its first-ever “Bark Night.” 

Forsberg noted he’d never had a delay that long before, and he spent the time “eating and trying to stay warm”.

“We didn’t do much; we relaxed in the locker room. We knew when it was time to go out, and we prepared ourselves. We looked at some tactical stuff in the halftime, but it was for sure the first time for me to wait that long for a second half to get going, and then when you come out, it’s pouring rain. It took a while to get in, but I think we did fantastically, and like I said, it just showed the mentality that we had. We wanted to play better. We did that in the second half. We dominated the second half, and we got to the third one.”

Coach Schwarz also noted that he hopes the team looks into having a “wildcat night” at Red Bull Arena sometime in the future. Overall, the coach was in a jovial mood, making players, staff, and the media smile multiple times.

For example, suggesting loud, supportive Jamaican fans led to his substitution of Cory Burke in the second half.

The team has little time to rest.
New York returns to Harrison on Saturday when they welcome Orlando City SC.


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