Since the heartbreaking 2-1 loss in Columbus on September 14, the Red Bulls have gone seven games unbeaten, with five wins and two draws. That includes two wins and a draw against the rivals from across town, which has sent NYCFC into a tailspin and dropped them from 3rd in the Eastern Conference, to be one point above RBNY, in 8th place. (Oh how sweet that is) (New York is RED!)

Without a doubt, the biggest key has been in defense. Although not together for every game during this stretch due to suspensions and injuries, Andrés Reyes and Sean Nealis have proven to be rocks on the back line. That center-back pairing, has allowed 2 goals in the last 6 games they’ve started together, and hasn’t allowed one yet in the month of October. Since the Aaron Long injury, the team had been consistently struggling to hold on to leads, with several late goals allowed. Finally, we are seeing the best two at the back for the squad. Reyes is a legitimate bull chasing 50-50 balls in the air, while Nealis is as sure as a defender can be cleaning up at the back.

Gerhard Struber’s job has not been easy. At the beginning of the season one of the biggest talking points was, what was the best combination of players in the midfield. Which would be his ideal 3-4 players in the engine room of the team, that would create and push defenders back to create space. With a plethora of players, the decisions weren’t easy.

Turns out, he needed them all.

It wasn’t just an injury thing either. Form goes up and down in such a long season, and it’s the manager’s job to figure out the formation and tactics using the skills of the players that are in the best form. After struggling to find the correct players for a while in the middle of the season, Struber has empowered guys like Omir Fernandez, Wiki Carmona, Dru Yearwood, even Cristian Cásseres Jr. who’s back to his top form after injury issues following international duty with Venezuela at Copa America.

It’s paid off in a big way, as those guys have played big roles in the recent success of the club.

Finally, my partner on the broadcast Nayib Morán and I, had been repeating it quite a bit; the team needed more goals from its strikers. Well, Patryk Klimala has stepped up to the plate. Of course, you would’ve loved to have seen it sooner, but Klimala has scored four goals during this seven-game stretch, and he now leads the team with eight on the season. Fábio has also recently been on the scoresheet from up top, with five goals on the year, but still leads the squad with six assists.

With five games to go in the regular season, and the Red Bulls only one point back of the final playoff spot, they’ll essentially be playing for their playoff lives in every match. If the trend continues it should be a fun and dramatic end to the season, and it starts this Saturday in Columbus. ¡VAMOS RED BULLS!