(HARRISON, NJ) The New York Red Bulls won their second straight game of the 2017 season, 1-0 over the Colorado Rapids. The result was a reflection of the workman-like effort the home team brought to the match. Colorado had trouble breaking down the Red Bulls, and only once forced Louis Robles into a big time save. The effort and result will surely please Jesse Marsch while the new-look Red Bulls settle into their groove. Here are three things I noticed.
Three Things I Noticed: Red Bulls Defeat Rapids In Home Opener
Etienne Up Top
The young winger got his first MLS start up top with Bradley Wright-Phillips. The results were mixed, but the young man gave fans plenty to be excited about. Etienne pestered the backline in the opening minutes, opening up acres of space for the other offensive players.
His inexperience did show from time to time, and that is just fine. For large swaths of the first half, Etienne seemed to drift out of the game. That left the offense disjointed. For about five minutes in the first half, the Red Bulls could not clear the ball. The lack of hold up play forced Sacha Kljestan to return to a more central position and Jesse Marsch pushed Etienne wide. Both players looked more comfortable in their natural positions.
While Derrick showed an ability to create with flair, his touch let him down a few times as well. All this is part of the learning process, and Etienne will be glad to get the experience. His ability as a spot starter will server him well.
Perrinelle Over Collin
Aurelien Collin’s poor CONCACAF Champions league showing opened the door for Damien Perrinelle to get the start in Atlanta. Marsch must have liked what he saw as the French defender started once again next to Aaron Long. This is yet another experiment that seems to be paying dividends for the Red Bulls. Long and Perrinelle are settling into a nice groove next to each other.
Long and Perrienelle are both much better with the ball at their feet. They sacrifice defensive bite with the pairing. Settling instead for a more controlled approach in the buildup play. Without Dax McCarty starting the attack, they need their center back pair to put in a larger role building from the back.
The Red Bulls have won two games in a row on a game-winning own goal. I’m not sure I know any other team to accomplish the same feat. It may not be the strategy they are planning, but it has been effective. It is an answer to the question of what to do if a team stacks the box. Ping the ball around the area and hope for a positive deflection. So far, it has worked.
Marsch certainly can’t game plan how the opposing defenders will intervene, but what the Red Bulls are doing is pushing greater numbers into the box during the attack. When the wingbacks are able to effectively cross the ball, New York are able to have as many as four players awaiting the ball. This forces opposition to play on the heels and it creates mistakes. Overwhelming the defense is something their Bundesliga brothers have been very effective doing this year.
All in all, it isn’t the start to the season that the Red Bulls had for offensively, but the results are all that matters. Two weeks in, it is clear this team is still growing and finding their best looks within the new formation.
45′ – E. Miller (OG)
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography.