ORLANDO, Fla. - Prior to Sunday’s preseason opener against the University of South Florida, Jesse Marsch said he wanted to see his team take the game to their opponents while implementing the new high-tempo system they’d been working on the past week in Orlando.
It took all of 12 minutes for the hard work to come together as Sal Zizzo’s centering pass from the left picked out Bradley Wright-Phillips to find the first goal in Red Bull’s 4-0 rout of USF Sunday morning.
“I couldn’t really miss,” Wright-Phillips said post-game. “I tried to do what I do – get on the end of it. It’s good to hit the back of the net, though, start doing it early.”
Red Bull continued to apply pressure and increased their lead just five minutes later when Dax McCarty played a perfect ball through for trialist Mike Grella. The Glen Cove, NY product took one touch before rounding the USF ‘keeper and finishing in the 17th minute.
In the 22nd minute, Chris Duvall played Lloyd Sam to the endline on the right before sending a pinpoint cross towards the back post for Zizzo but the San Diego product headed just wide of goal.
Two minutes later Sam and Zizzo linked up again with a different result as the Englishman pounced on a turnover in midfield and quickly transitioned towards goal. Zizzo cut in from the left as Sam put a nice ball into his path, leaving the winger an easy finish in the 24th minute.
Wright-Phillips twice came close to increasing his goal tally towards the end of the half but his header on a 41st minute cross from Duvall just went begging. In the 44th minute, Roy Miller also found Wright-Phillips but his header was turned out for a corner kick.
“The first half the whole group really committed and understood their roles and really commanded the game,” Marsch said. “We didn’t give them much of a chance to play and I thought we did everything from control the pace of the game, the possession.
“I thought in all ways we were really on top of that and it manifested itself.”
Most of the squad changed at halftime and with it, the attack died down a bit, though the reinforcements did keep a reasonably high tempo.
The one goal of that half came when SuperDraft selection Manolo Sanchez turned his man on the right and centered for newly arrived forward Anatole Abang in the 58th minute.
Backup goalkeeper Kyle Reynish had more to do in the second half than teammate Luis Robles in the first, as he was called off his line to make saves in the 52nd and 59th minutes.
All in all, Marsch says he was pleased with the performance in the preseason opener.
“We’re setting new standards here. We’re trying to redefine what the commitment to each other means. I want them in this moment, while we’re building this anew, we want to make sure the commitment to each other, to compete on the field, move with each other, to have each other backs when mistakes get made are in place.
“The guys understood how we wanted to play today, went out on the field, put the plan in place. There’s still plenty to work, there’s no doubt about that but there are plenty of positive signs as well.”