In his post-match comments following Saturday’s 2-1 win over FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe panned the effort in the midfield. Citing an inability to hold possession, Backe compared the game’s up-tempo feel to a basketball game. And he wasn’t pleased.
Now, the Red Bulls head into Saturday afternoon’s fixture against Philadelphia hoping to control the midfield and win the possession battle against the expansion club. Backe stated on Tuesday that he is hopeful that midfielder Carl Robinson, a second-half substitute against FC Dallas, will help solidify the midfield and be a calming presence.
If Robinson’s knee, injured in the late-March friendly against Santos, doesn’t have significant swelling, then Backe is hopeful to see the former Welsh international in the starting XI against the Union.
Backe said that the midfielder’s knee was drained of fluids on Monday and that he will be watching to see how Robinson responds to training on Thursday and Friday. If he does well, the player should be able to start against Philadelphia.
Saturday night, the Red Bulls midfield struggled to control the ball and provided too few scoring opportunities for their coach’s liking. Forward Juan Pablo Angel said that despite the struggles, “we’re still winning football games” but he is hopeful that with time, the attack will begin to come together.
“There’s a number of new players, there is also a new way and new shape that we’re trying to play this year,” Angel said. “We have not created the chances we should.”
The team’s struggles were on both sides of the ball, so to speak. Defensively, the midfield couldn’t contain the visitors’ attack. Joel Lindpere told MLSSoccer.com that the team’s struggles were largely due to the 4-5-1 formation employed by FC Dallas. The fact that the Red Bulls midfielders were outnumbered overwhelmed them.
“We started off very well against Chicago and then at Seattle, we played what I think was very well,” Lindpere told MLSSoccer.com. “Then against Chivas [USA] and the last game, it wasn’t so good. We didn’t seem to be as strong in the midfield or organized enough.”
In his postgame press conference, Backe likened the first 10 minutes against FC Dallas to the team being “paralyzed.” Simply put, Backe said the team has “to start better.” It is a point not lost on the team, and Lindpere said that the midfield worked on their organization on Tuesday in practice, in particular, their cohesiveness.
Robinson, who Backe said is the missing component to stabilizing the midfield, agreed.
“On Saturday, we were a bit too open as a team,” Robinson said. “We conceded too many chances.”
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.