Red Bulls Ruin Atlanta Debut
The New York Red Bulls quickly rid themselves of Champions League heartache with an opening day win against debutante Atlanta United FC. In front of 55,000 home fans, Atlanta failed to see out an early lead surrendering two second half goals. For the Red Bulls, the fan base can sleep a bit easier with three road points to start the season. Considering how difficult it was for NY to win points on the road last season, no one should overlook the importance of taking three from a conference opponent.
NY still has plenty to improve upon. Here are three things I noticed:
Aaron Long and ?
The backline has been a bit spotty for the Red Bulls three games into their season. Michael Murillo has yet to see the field, and the fullback position is a concern right now. Sal Zizzo, Kemar Lawrence, and Justin Bilyeu have had mixed outings. Often, the three players get caught up field. Opposing winger have feasted on the space. Central defenders become overloaded and pulled out of position. It leads to mismatches and 1-on-2 defending. Aaron Long has done very well coping with the extra pressure, but his two partners so far have not.
Both Damien Perrinelle and Aurelien Collin have had forgettable outings thus far. Atlanta’s inexperience and some great goalkeeping from Louis Robles kept the score from getting out of hand. More experienced teams will make the Red Bulls pay. Beyond minimizing their mistakes on the defensive side, the Red Bulls will need to find the proper balance on the back line to find consistent success. Aaron Long has stepped up to stamp his name on the team sheet. Who else will join him?
The Red Bulls were able to do something against a fast front line they have failed to do against a number of similar teams. Cede possession. The Red Bulls have continually had trouble maintaining possession and creating chances against teams that can counter them. The Red Bulls were content to play a bit deeper throughout the game. Their attack, which was frustrating for fans to watch, relied on fewer passes in the offensive third. This led to attacks with fewer passes overall.
Instead, the Red Bulls looked to strike quickly. Swinging for the fences. This was especially true in the second half as Atlanta began to sit back a bit more. The Red Bulls were able to carry the ball forward more before trying to strike into the attack. NY also began to hold the ball up more effectively after the introductions of Mike Grella and Derrick Etienne. Atlanta had to defend for longer stretches and ultimately paid for their mistakes in the back.
Roving Royer Reaps Rewards
Daniel Royer may be the most critical piece of the Red Bulls attack this year. His aggression is unmatched on the front line. Royer can play as a true winger, and cut inside to shoot from deeper positions around the box. The Austrian is another threat on set pieces. Mike Grella and Alex Muyl never did add much in the final third on dead ball. Increasingly, the Red Bulls reliance on Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan made the Red Bulls too predictable. If Royer can become a regular threat, the Red Bulls will have another dimension and gear to their attack.
- 25′ – ATL – Yamil Asad
- 76′ – NY – Daniel Royer
- 82 – NY – Anton Walkes (OG)
- 38′ – Sal Zizzo (Unsporting Behavior)
- 49′ – Josef Martínez (Unsporting Behavior)
- 66′ – Damien Perrinelle (Unsporting Behavior)
- 88′ – Carlos Carmona (Violent Conduct)