(Harrison, NJ)- The New York Red Bulls found themselves in a win-and-they’re-in situation on Saturday evening against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Three points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference were on the line and the Red Bulls played like it, earning their 3-0 victory. From the opening whistle one of the coldest teams in MLS played with pace and dismantled the very hot Whitecaps.
In the 33rd minute, Daniel Royer placed a delicate shot into the side net after a helper from Sacha Kljestan and a genius dummy from veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips. BWP bagged one of his own on a jaw dropping team play. Tyler Adams threaded the needle splitting two Vancouver defenders at midfield. From there BWP battled for position in the box and then finished a sweet chip just over ‘Caps goalkeeper David Ousted. But, words don’t quite do this play justice, so….
To seal the match, Felipe hit a screamer from ouside the box off of a layoff from Kljestan. Without a win for just about two months, this was a performance that RBNY fans can be proud of for a long time.
New York Red Bulls Trounce Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Clinch Playoff Spot
Here is how the New York Red Bulls lined up for one of the biggest games of the season:
The international break was a talked-about factor throughout the league this weekend. New York was forced to play without Panamanian center backs Fidel Escobar and Michael Amir Murillo. Despite these loses to depth, left back Kemar Lawrence opted to refuse his call up to the Jamaican National Team so he could help his club secure a playoff spot. Therefore, Taxi was in the starting lineup and played a monumental role with multiple big tackles.
There is no other word to describe the Red Bulls’ performance Saturday evening but “dominant.” New York was statistically better in every department including possession (57% – 43%), passing (448 – 345), and shots (18 – 8). The fluidity of transition to attack was better than anything displayed in the recent stretch of games. Jesse Marsh’s squad looked comfortable and composed, as well as creative on the ball. While the victors get the credit they deserve, the embarrassing performance from Vancouver must be noted. That is not how the first place team in the West has been playing of late. The Whitecaps were slow to the ball and left gaps in the back line to be exploited.
According to Jesse Marsch, “Tonight, Tyler [Adams] was the best player on the field.” As the story has gone in many games this season, Adams’ splashes of brilliance on the pitch are mesmerizing. You can see the poise and precision he brought to a big game like this with his assist to BWP (video above). Here is a statistical breakdown of Adams’ match:
— Jason Foster (@JogaBonitoUSA) October 7, 2017
These are the kind of numbers the 18-year-old produces on an everyday basis. The player has been making a case all year to be called up to the senior United States Men’s National Team (Ahem).
With the Eastern Conference playoff teams now all set after RBNY clinched the final spot, all that’s left is the order. If the playoffs began today, Toronto FC and New York City FC would receive a bye. The three seed Atlanta United FC would host sixth seeded RBNY, and fourth seed Chicago Fire SC would host fifth seed Columbus Crew SC.
These positions, however, are not decided just yet. The Red Bulls have all but eliminated themselves from contention for a home game in the first round, so they will be looking for their best possible opponent. They have a six-point home game against Atlanta next weekend. That one will have huge implications as to where each team ends up in the final standings. No doubt Marsch and his squad want to avoid playing a first round game in a full Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Therefore, some desirable results are Atlanta overtaking NYCFC for the two seed. In that case, if RBNY stays in sixth, they would only have to travel to the Bronx for the first round. Additionally, expect the Red Bulls to go for it against Atlanta as well as the decision day match at DC United in hopes to leapfrog over Crew SC into the fifth spot.
Despite the struggles of the past two months, New York is setting themselves up to enter the MLS Cup Playoffs in form. The league was reminded on Saturday that the Red Bulls can be a very dangerous team when they play to their strengths. On the day, Marsch out-coached Robinson, and the Red Bulls out-classed the ‘Caps on the pitch.
It was a deserved three points, and the fans will take the punched ticket to the playoffs even if they had to wait longer than anticipated. Saturday marked the longest active streak for seasons in the playoffs in the league. This year is NY’s 8th consecutive trip. Should the Seattle Sounders clinch a spot, this year will be their ninth in-a-row bumping RBNY’s streak to second.
The team’s last two matches- home to Atlanta United and away to DC United- will be interesting in shaping the ultimate playoff picture and determining the fates of six clubs. Expect nothing less than for Jesse Marsch to go all in for the last two, and do as much as they can to secure the most beneficial first round match-up.