Alright Red Bulls fans; you’ve had enough days to sulk. Zero points in two games, and a tough loss on a nationally-televised game while allowing a hat-trick to Chicharito, aren’t ideal. Head Coach Gerhard Struber saw some positives but was obviously not satisfied. “We make steps to further our principles which is a good feeling, but otherwise we are a professional team, we need the right results, and right now we have not found a way to realize the results we want.”
So now it’s time to look forward to another opportunity, while keeping in mind that each game regardless of the result, is an opportunity for all of our young players to gain experience, an experience they were denied due to the cancellations of a few preseason games because of COVID protocols. After all RBNY is the youngest team in the league with an average age of just 23!
Next up is a matinee matchup this Saturday at Red Bull Arena against Chicago Fire FC, who are also coming off a tough road loss in Atlanta of 3-1. Let’s take a look at some of the positives we are able to take from the first two weeks of the season.
The high-press has forced opponents into dangerous situations
The players on this team are clearly fit for the Red Bull system. The high-press, high-energy and direct-play have done their job through two games, forcing opponents into dangerous situations and turnovers in their own half. Now it’s obvious that RBNY needs to take better advantage of these situations and make teams pay with goals, but the effort is there to be able to create chances in counter-play, and that will lead to goals this season.
Midfield versatility allows for different formations and styles of play
Against Sporting Kansas City, it was a switch from the 4-4-2 diamond to a 4-3-3 with two out and out wingers. In the game in Los Angeles, it started with a 3-5-2 formation and changed at halftime back to the 4-4-2 diamond. The point is that with all the midfield options that the Red Bulls currently have, it gives them the ability to adjust as the game goes on. Everyone at the club will tell you that the principles of the system stay the same, but the formation, style of build-up and attack can vary game-to-game and even half to half. Bear in mind that this is also at a very early point of the season, where the coaching staff is still figuring out how to implement new players and learn which formation and midfield group is their best. Still the players are staying ready, as Florian Valot proved when he stated that he and his teammates have been deployed in multiple positions in the midfield in training to continue to build that versatility.
Fábio showing glimpses, Klimala on the way
The young Brazilian striker Fábio has shown a relentless work rate since Day 1. His ability to press with his large 6’4” frame is terrorizing for opposing defenders. Of course with that tall figure, he needs better service into the box than he’s been getting. Fábio is a striker, and he needs to score goals, but he’s showing glimpses of getting into the right spaces. He also had a rocket of a shot saved by Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, that was definitely heading for the top corner. He will also have some help coming soon, with former Celtic striker Patryk Klimala. The 22-year-old youth Polish international is working through his Visa process and will soon be with the team stateside. He is another big, physical player, and he will add even more depth to an already deep roster.
This Saturday afternoon is another opportunity to get three big points, and here’s hoping the Red Bulls can build off the positives and take it to Chicago in front of you, our home fans.