Three points are in the bag! After a tough start to the young season, the Red Bulls recorded their first win of the campaign at home against the Chicago Fire, boosting the confidence of our young squad. It’s also the first win for Gerhard Struber as New York’s manager, earning him the game ball from captain Sean Davis in the locker room postgame. It was well deserved because the boss absolutely nailed the team selection on the day, specifically in the midfield.
Despite injuries to Florian Valot and Youba Diarra, and a few players not yet fit for a full 90 minutes, the depth and options in the midfield were an integral part of the win Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Since preseason we have been raving about the multitude of options Struber seems to have in the engine room of the formation. New York has as many as 8 players that can rotate in to play different positions in the midfield, whether that be in the “diamond 4”, a more traditional line of 4, or even in a trio. Of course, both goals came from the middle of the pitch, as Caden Clark and Cristian Cásseres Jr. each bagged their second tally of their seasons. This versatility is starting to show just how important it will be moving forward for the team this season.
Struber decided to start with Frankie Amaya, Clark, Cásseres and Sean Davis against Chicago. Amaya and Clark alternated between the tip of the diamond or the number 10 role, and the left midfield spot. Cásseres Jr. was mostly over on the right with the captain lying in that defensive holding mid role. New York controlled and dictated the tempo from the midfield virtually the entire 90 minutes. The changes in the second half were effective and demonstrated just how much of a strength the midfield is for the squad. Young Designated Player, Dru Yearwood, came on for Amaya, who completed 100% of his passes throughout the 58 minutes he was on the pitch. This allowed Clark to shift to the number 10 role, and Yearwood to take up his spot as the left mid in the diamond. Yearwood’s work rate added yet another dynamic to an already solid performance from the middle four. Omir Fernandez was also able to make his season debut, as he came on for Clark later in the affair, and Fernandez almost got on the scoresheet himself.
It was the best performance of the season, and it was due in large part to the midfield. That’s saying a lot being that Valot had started the first two games of the campaign, and Diarra was probably the team’s man of the match in their loss to Sporting Kansas City in the season opener. This versatility will be key against Toronto FC this weekend, as they’re coming off a difficult midweek Concacaf Champions League fixture in Mexico City, and RBNY will in no doubt be looking to use their high-press and midfield pressure to tire them out early and often. Here’s to our boys recording another 3 points at home this weekend!