Deep Dive: Looking Back at a Memorable First Half of the Season

At the halfway point of the MLS calendar, the New York Red Bulls sit near the top of the Eastern Conference standings and are two wins away from a U.S. Open Cup championship.

They even made history along the way.

Before the playoff push gets under way, look back at a memorable first half of the 2022 season.


The Storylines

Road Warriors

Since the 2018 season that saw New York lift the Supporters Shield, they have not won more than five MLS games on the road in a season.

A win in Kansas City, the club’s first since 2017, secured the Red Bulls’ sixth victory MLS victory of the season in only their 10th game away from home.

After a 2-1 come from behind victory at Chicago, the Red Bulls became the second team in MLS history to win its first five road games of the season in regulation and the first since the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1998.


Rebuilding the Fortress

A historic start to the season on the road was paired conversely with a winless streak at home that lasted six games.

From Minnesota Dayne St. Clair standing on his head, to a last-second equalizer from Columbus, to a wild 3-3 shootout against Chicago, the first win at Red Bull Arena was proving elusive.

The dam finally broke on May 28 against Atlantic Cup rival D.C. United, as four second-half goals helped New York claim their first win at home in 2022.


Since then, the Red Bulls have built a fortress at home, winning their last four at Red Bull Arena across all competitions.

Luqui and Lewis

Two offseason acquisitions have been two of the main catalysts for a Red Bulls team that currently sits atop the Eastern Conference.

The pair have combined for 17 goals and 8 assists in 41 appearances across all competitions in 2022.

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Morgan is the team’s leading goal-scorer so far this season, while Luquinhas is leading the team in assists.

When looking at the positives for the first half of New York’s season so far, these two names are two reasons behind them.

The Open Cup Run

New York currently sits two wins away from their first trophy since the 2018 Supporters Shield.

An Open Cup run that started in Hartford, Connecticut now sees the Red Bulls as one of four teams left vying for the 2022 U.S. Open Cup title.

The campaign has seen decisive 3-0 victories over rivals like D.C. United and New York City FC.


The Red Bulls have done it at home, on the road, and even at MSU Soccer Park, which played home to a 3-1 victory over Charlotte FC in the Round of 16.

A road test against Orlando City is all that stands between New York and their first appearance in the USOC Championship game since 2017.

The Moments

Morgan’s Toronto Hat Trick

Lewis Morgan scored his first goal of his New York career in the second game of the season against Toronto FC. He then scored his second for the club, followed by his third, all in the first half.

The hat trick helped the New York Red Bulls jump out to a 4-1 lead at halftime en route to three points on the road.

Patryk Klimala notched three assists on the day, assisting Morgan on all of his goals, helping get New York a 2-0-0 start to the season.

Chicago Comeback Secures History

The Red Bulls weathered the storm, both literally and figuratively, in Chicago. 

After trailing for 75 minutes, behind two goals from second half sub Patryk Klimala, New York fought back to earn a 2-1 victory that etched their names in the MLS history books, becoming the first team since 1998 to start the season 5-0-0 on the road.

The goals for Klimala were his second and third of the season.

Golazos Guarantee First Home Win

After waiting for six games, the Red Bulls and their fans got to celebrate their first home win at Red Bull Arena for the 2022 season. 

A second-half onslaught, which featured golazos from Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan, secured a 4-1 victory over D.C. United.

Luquinhas had a brace within the span of five minutes, followed up by Lewis Morgan’s Goal of the Year contender that made it 3-0. Tom Barlow would force an own goal that would secure the 4-1 victory.

Open Cup Derby

A derby matchup that people weren’t expecting at the start of the season saw the Red Bulls make a statement in a 3-0 thrashing of their Hudson River rival.

Coming into the game at Red Bull Arena, New York City FC were at the top of the Eastern Conference, were undefeated in their last 12 games across all competitions, and had conceded only once in the previous six games.

After a first half stalemate, Lewis Morgan got the party started with a goal in the 52nd minute. That was then followed by a 70th minute goal by Luquinhas to give the Red Bulls some breathing room. Omir Fernandez finished the job in the 90th minute, confirming New York’s spot in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals for the first time since 2017.

It was an early shot across the bow from the red side of New York with two upcoming derby games on the schedule.

Ngoma’s Game-Winner Completes Comeback

A mundane start from the Red Bulls against Atlanta United saw them 1-0 down in the second half. That all changed when Luquinhas and Serge Ngoma were subbed into the game.

Luquinhas forced a penalty that lead to Lewis Morgan converting from the spot in the 83rd minute to make it 1-1.

Ngoma then forced an Atlanta defensive error, stole the ball from defender Alex DeJohn and slotted it home for his first career MLS goal.

In doing so, he became the youngest player to score an MLS goal this season.

The Players

Lewis Morgan

Another key offseason addition has been Lewis Morgan. He currently leads the team in goals, on target scoring attempts, and total attacking assists.

His 10 goals across all competitions in 2022 have helped get New York to the top of the Eastern Conference standings and only two wins away from the club’s first U.S. Open Cup title.

Morgan’s versatility has also been key for the Red Bulls this season. He has played games in the midfield and in the attack, but also spent time as a wingback when needed.

He has been dependable from the spot, too, converting all three of his penalty shot attempts.


The Brazilian midfielder was brought in from Legia Warsaw in the offseason, and hasn’t stopped contributing for New York ever since.

In only 2020 total appearances, Luquinhas has tallied seven goals and six assists.

His first goal game in a 3-0 road victory over Orlando City, and he hasn't looked back since. He has recorded a goal or an assist in 11 of his 17 appearances since recording his first start with the Red Bulls.

He has been featured in the MLS Team of the Week three times so far this season, and was named the MLS Player of the week after his goal against Toronto FC helped secure a 2-0 victory.

Since making his first appearance against Minnesota United, he has provided a spark in the attack, and has been garnering consideration for MLS Newcomer of the Year, as well as league MVP.

Carlos Coronel

One of the standouts from the 2021 campaign has picked up right where he left off, tallying six clean sheets across all competitions so far in 2022.

In 20 total appearances, he has only allowed 19 goals and has made 37 saves.

The Brazilian brick wall has been a mainstay between the posts for New York, helping them secure the seventh-best defense in the league.

Aaron Long

Long, who suffered a season-ending injury in 2021, has come back, taken the Captain’s armband, and has been one of New York’s standout players in 2022.

Long has helped lead the backline to five clean sheets this season.

He has also been dangerous on the offensive end, tallying four goals and two assists this season across all competitions. His latest goal proved to be a decisive one on the road in the second half against Kansas City in a 1-0 victory.

Sean Nealis

Nealis has been an ironman for the Red Bulls in 2022.

Up until he was dealt a red card in the 73rd minute against Sporting Kansas City, Nealis had been the only MLS player to play every single minute of every game for his team across all competitions.

That’s 2,053 straight minutes for the defender this season.

When called upon, Nealis has also taken up the Captain’s armband twice, including a crucial 1-1 draw at Philadelphia.

Helping head up the New York back line, Nealis has been a force, winning 65.7% of his headed duels and tallying 25 interceptions so far this season.