(COMMENTARY) – When the lineups were announced for the match last night, the faithful steeled themselves for the usual “worse case” scenario. Seeing that the lineup featured some players from the NYRBII squad, the home folks feared that a loss at home in the opener would spell doom and gloom for the 2018 MLS Regular Season campaign.
Also, the usual collection of armchair coaches and critics were ready to add even more notches on their collective belts validating their claims that head coach Jesse Marsch is a failure, among other things.
Then the match started.
The Red Bulls put a complete performance from start to finish as they nearly ran the Portland Timbers off the pitch, 4-0. Red Bulls starlet Ben Mines, just 17 years of age, opened his account in grand style in the 18th minute. Thanks in part to a sequence that started by Derrick Etienne, Jr. and Carlos Rivas’ quick one-two passing left the Timbers’ defense looking for answers early and often. Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch, pleased with the performance, said after the match, “I think obviously a very good performance, and I think the part that I’m happiest with is the fact that we played like us, we looked like us. There were different names on the back of the jerseys, but that looked like our team. That’s always our goal. So even if you don’t get the result on the day, you know, it’s so important that our team plays the way that we want to play.”
Red Bulls captain Luis Robles agreed with his coach. “The guys did their job tonight, and we’re committed to the game plan and left it on the field,” the goalkeeper said. “So I think that if anything Jesse has got to be pleased but he also understands that he got a group of hungry players that are going to make decisions each and every week difficult.”
In the second half, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Carlos Rivas, with Rivas finding the back of the net twice in a three minute sealed the victory and sending the faithful home happy on a frigid Saturday night.
Knowing their roles in the system, Marsch’s troops were able to put together the complete game they needed. “There’s not much gray area. There’s understanding of roles. It’s the same as how we play on the field. Everyone understands what role they have, how they fit and how they are valued, and then they just — everyone is trying to figure out ways to do the job as good as they possibly can,” the coach added.
The Red Bulls have outscored their opponents 9-1 in four competitions thus far, setting things up very nicely for the CONCACAF Champions League match on Tuesday night.
In short, it was a complete match from start to finish. Whether it was Portland starting off on the wrong foot by NJSP getting the team to the arena on time, the kids put on a show last night. Bodes very well for the team as far as depth is concerned.
With the team slowly beginning to gel, and the teams looking strong in all positions early on, the supporters should feel very good about this team and the season to come. Of course, that won’t stop that collection of armchair coaches and critics who will always be on the sidelines, waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.