CARSON, Calif. – The unprecedented center-back pairing of the Galaxy's Brazilian Leonardo and Trinidadian Yohance Marshall was one of the chief story lines leading up to the match between the Galaxy and Red Bulls on Friday night.
By the time the game was all said and done, the players proved accomplices on both Red Bulls goals as the visitors claimed a 2-0 road result.
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“When we had the team talk, we said we had to try to press the center backs and make life as hard on them as possible,” Red Bulls manager Hans Backe said. “We closed down every goal kick and, with both strikers, we tried to press them as much as possible.”
In the 36th minute, LA’s Marshall stepped up to head away a throw-in directed at Red Bulls midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, but the ball bounced into the path of NY’s Joel Lindpere. The Estonian then easily penetrated into the box after Leonardo whiffed on an attempted tackle and Lindpere’s shot off the post led to the first NY goal.
“We were talking about [Omar] Gonzalez not playing and we were talking that there was some inexperience in central defense,” Lindpere said. “We needed to punish them.
"I think they didn’t know what to do exactly when the wide players come in. It’s like they haven’t played too much together and we are in good form. It’s not easy [for LA].”
Leonardo did not reappear in the second half, substituted by right back A.J. DeLaGarza, while Sean Franklin moved to central defense.
In the post-game press conference, LA manager Bruce Arena said the substitution was executed due to an injury to Leonardo. However, word came from the Galaxy following the media availability that the change was a tactical sub.
The second Red Bulls goal came on the hour mark following a penalty kick caused by Marshall. The center back took down Jamaican winger Dane Richards, author of the first goal, in the box.
“Our organization in the back in the first half wasn’t good enough,” Arena said. “For us to expect [Leonardo and Marshall] to come in and not make any mistakes, we’d have to be kidding ourselves.”