(HARRISON, NJ)- The New York Red Bulls collected three big points against Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew SC with a 2-0 win. Alex Muyl scored the winning goal for the second consecutive week.
Red Bulls Win 2-0 Over Crew: Three Things I Noticed
Sacha Kljestan found space down the left wing. He found Kemar Lawrence on the overlap. Lawrence’s cross deflected off a defender and found Muyl. Muyl chested the ball down and walked it into an open net in 11th minute.
Daniel Royer iced the game with a well hit penalty kick in the 38th. Bradley Wright-Phillips earned the penalty from rookie Alex Crognale. Crognale mistimed a sliding challenge, and managed to get hurt in the process.
Along with injury to Crognale, Artur left the game early after a collision with Kemar Lawrence in the first minute of play. Artur appeared to have broken his arm bracing his fall.
Here’s what I saw in the win.
Is The Sequel As Good?
The biggest question heading into the game was, “Can the Red Bulls keep it up?” It is valid question amongst the early results of the club. False starts have plagued the club for nearly a decade, and some starts do not correct in time. D.C. didn’t offer much in the way of true resistance to the Red Bulls. The result came with an appropriate amount of skepticism.
The follow-up performance offered few complete answers, but did showcase what makes Red Bull tick during their brightest stretches. The high press system can force a defense into difficult situations to deal with effectively.
The chances created out of the high press can be often be chaotic, allowing a striker just a moment to decide on their course of action and execute. Alex Muyl found himself in this exact situation early in the first half against Columbus. A fortunate deflection popped up to his chest. Muyl had no time to react or plan. He followed his instincts in the moment and walked the ball into the net. NY had been missing the mark in these situations for weeks. Now, for the second straight game, they are capitalizing.
Columbus Counters With Speed
NY did a very good job weathering a prolonged storm against Columbus. The Crew woke up after going 2-0 down in the first half and played a measured, patient game. They looked to utilize their speed while delivering the ball from deep positions to their wingers. While their transition may have been slow, it was effective.
The Crew found a number of very dangerous positions against the Red Bulls throughout the remainder of the match. It took NY relying on big individual moments from defenders and Luis Robles.
The Red Bulls’ players came through in those moments. Just like the offensive struggles to start the season, NY’s defense seemed to make critical mistakes at key moments during their winless streak. The reemergence of Aurelian Collin and Kemar Lawrence are a big reason why the defense has played so well over the last two games. Limiting mistakes is key for any team, but especially so for a team that plays a high press. NY depends on clinical performances all over the field to be successful.
Royer Regression Status
Though he scored a goal, Daniel Royer’s night should be measured against more than his stat sheet. Royer involved himself very well against Columbus. His height advantage over Harrison Afful led NY to attack down the left side through most of the first half. Much of the attack in the first 15 minutes came from balls to the head of Daniel Royer at the midfield stripe.
Take a look at this heat map from the first half:
Notice anything? Clear as day, NY led their attack through Royer. His connection with Kljestan and Wright-Phillips was better than it has been so far this season. This trio, which should have already been dominating MLS defenses, is finally coming together to create chances. If they continue to be on the same page, MLS will be on notice.
The second half was a bit more down than up for Royer. Notably, he made the wrong decision while in alone on net. With Steffan frozen to his line, Royer decided to pass across through a defender to Wright-Phillips. The pass was easily broken up. A third goal so early in the second half might have cemented the game.