The Red Bulls got their first preseason scrimmage action on Friday against Atlanta United. New York fell, 2-1, over the course of three 30-minute periods. Florian Valot scored the Red Bulls goal in the seventh minute.
New York used mixed lineups, with no players going more than 45 minutes. The starting defense consisted of Ryan Meara, Rece Buckmaster, Tim Parker, Sean Nealis and 2020 First Round SuperDraft pick Patrick Seagrist.
Sean Davis and Chris Lema anchored the midfield, with a front four of Danny Royer, Florian Valot, Brian White and 2020 Superdraft pick Niko Petridis.
“We want to have more system of play flexibility,” said head coach Chris Armas. “We’re more than comfortable defending in a 4-4-2… but when we have the ball often times it’s a 4-2-3-1 with a pure number 10. With Mathias Jørgensen, with Tom Barlow, with Brian White, it’s interesting when you have two 9’s on the field, because every time you can win the ball, which we’re good at, you can have two guys that can put real pressure on the back line… It’s been good to try and evolve and develop, and have some more weapons for the season.”
Valot’s goal came in the seventh minute off of a pressing moment in Atlanta’s end. Danny Royer was able to force a turnover from the back line, collect the ball and find Valot across the top of the 18-yard box. Valot found himself in space and calmly finished with a low shot to the far post.
Both of Atlanta’s goals came in the first 30-minute period as well.
“We picked this opponent for the reason that we wanted a good opponent,” said Armas. “Ideally it would have been our second or third game in preseason but when the options were presented, we wanted a good game… We score one and if we’re sharper, maybe four or five moments could come. Good opponent, good first match, good test early on.”
The first batch of subs saw 2020 SuperDraft picks Wallis Lapsley, Cherif Dieye and Deri Corfe replace Meara, Royer and Petridis. Alex Muyl replaced Valot, and Marc Rzatkowski took Lema’s spot in the holding midfield.
John Tolkin, Amro Tarek, Roy Boateng and Kyle Duncan took over defensive responsibilities after 45 minutes, and Kendall McIntosh played the final 30 minutes in goal.
Kyle Zajec and SuperDraft pick Barry Sharifi also saw time in the holding midfield. After Rzatkowski and Lema.
Tom Barlow replaced Brian White up top for the final 45 minutes, with Jared Stroud, Ben Mines and SuperDraft pick Stavros Zarakostas taking part in the attack.
Armas thinks the match gave the team something to build upon for the rest of the first camp in Bradenton.
“We’re reinforcing our style of play that we can play fast and we can play aggressively, not necessarily the result, but the way the game unfolded should give a lot of belief in what we’re doing… There’s nothing that … can do more for the players confidence than experiencing some success in the pressing, counter-pressing and controlling some spaces where we don’t have the ball.”