The New York Red Bulls returned home against a Real Salt Lake side reeling from a coaching change and absences to key players.
Despite the cards heavily stacked in their favor, New York emerged with a hard fought point. For their part, the Red Bulls bossed the game against RSL, but failed to find the back of the net. In truth, it may have eerily reminded fans of some of their most frustrating performances from 2016. Though the result may not have been the salvo Red Bull fans were seeking after the 3-1 defeat at Seattle, positives on the night were easy to discern. Here’s what I noticed.
Red Bulls Draw Real Salt Lake: Three Things I Noticed
Tyler Adams Starts
Tyler Adams inclusion in the lineup raised a few eyebrows. The teenage midfielder had previously started a single match for the Red Bulls. Sean Davis left the door open for him to attempt a coup with his play to start the season. Davis has not struggled, but he has failed to really stake a claim thus far. Adams, having returned from US U-20 service, deserved a shot. It was his play at the youth international level that earned rave reviews.
Against Salt Lake, Adams looked very good. His pressure helped keep RSL’s midfield from settling down, forcing a number of turnovers in the first half. Tyler did a much better job moving the ball forward than he has previously shown, but still shows some reluctance to go for the final pass. RSL was able to boss him around a bit physically, but it did not stop him from going into challenges.
Connor Lade Returns
Lade’s return to the starting lineup was a welcome sight. The diminutive wingback was stellar defensively in his 60 minutes. His work moving forward was much nicer in the short game, something Sal Zizzo has struggled with a bit. Lade helped usher the play forward, but was unable to really contribute in the final third.
Further up field, Alex Muyl helped stabilize the wings. While Red Bull showed similar problematic tendencies, having two good defenders on the wing helped minimize the impact of mistakes. Despite trading off some creativity in the final third, the trade off paid off for NY on the day. Despite the improvement on the backline, NY did still show they are capable of shooting themselves in the foot.
Fredrik Gulbrandsen may not have found the back of the net, but he showed very well. His speed opened up space for RBNY to operate time and again. The Red Bulls new striker showed his unselfishness also. A number of the Red Bulls best attacks started with Gulbrandsen looking to find players on the run. Even with Gonzalo Veron, the Red Bulls have rarely looked so dangerous on the wing since the 2015 season. To think we may see a time with Veron, Wright-Phillips, Royer, and Gulbrandsen on the field at the same time should give the NY faithful plenty of optimism.
The Red Bulls will travel to Houston next week to face the Dynamo. Another trip West against a strong team may exacerbate the apoplectic among Red Bull supporters, but these are early days. With some more time, the Bulls may be on parade soon enough.
Photo credit: Bill Twomey Photography