New York looked good on Saturday night, earning their largest road victory in five years with a 3-0 tally at Kansas City. After going all of last year without a win as visitors, New York now has three road wins this year.
Four things to take away from the win:
1. Momentum? Shmomentum … Before the stop in play for the World Cup, the Red Bulls had won two straight games and finished tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with a 7-5 record. A win on the road against Kansas City helps answer the question of whether this team is for real. With last season’s last-place finish behind them, the Red Bulls look like they will hang around for an awfully long time in the race for the playoffs. “It's phenomenal," Juan Pablo Angel said. "It seemed like we didn't even stop. The break couldn't have come at a better time for us. We had a chance to recover some of our players and get them fit and back in the squad. Today, I thought we played really strong.”
2. Handling the 4-5-1 – The Red Bulls struggled in their two previous games playing against opponents with a 4-5-1 formation, getting outplayed by FC Dallas in April and losing to Seattle in May. Kansas City have a formation that tries to dominate the midfield, and New York handled it well on a small field. In the two games previous against team’s playing a 4-5-1, the Red Bulls’ midfield got run over and chances were few and far between. This time, New York held their shape and dictated the flow of the game.
3. Angel Takes Flight – Around May, Red Bulls fans began to wonder what happened to Juan Pablo Angel, the player who had become the face of the franchise. Angel was scoring goals, mainly on penalty kicks, but he didn’t seem like his old self. Now with three goals in the past three games, Angel appears to have his touch back. The fact that he is buzzing around and looking refreshed is a good sign for New York. Salou Ibrahim opened the scoring on a bad play from the Kansas City defense. “Both strikers scored our goals, which is good for the future,” head coach Hans Backe said.
4. Cruzeiro Loss Crucial – Coming off the nearly two week break, the Red Bulls played Brazilian club Cruzeiro in a friendly more than a week before the Kansas City game. Despite losing, it was a chance for the players to kick the ball around after the layoff. New York looked far more lethal and fluid than Kansas City on Saturday night, and the friendly against Cruzeiro certainly helped prepare the team in being sharp. Kudos to the New York management for putting together a game against a top opponent to help get the players ready and sharp heading into league play. "I'm very happy with our performance," Backe said after the win in Kansas City. "I would say that our second half was our best half of the year. We created decent chances over all 90 minutes.”
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.