COMMENTARY – Last night, the Red Bulls were justifiably hostile to their hosts, Minnesota United, 3-0. While fan sites are excited about Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kaku rounding into form and going nuts about favorite fan target Alex Myul winding up on the scoresheet (1 goal, 1 assist), some fans are overlooking a group that in my opinion, should be praised for their work thus far…
Earlier in the preseason, fans were concerned about the team’s defensive corps, a crew that surrendered 47 goals in MLS Regular season play, resulting consternation among the faithful, especially in late moments in close matches. In addition, Aurelien Collin the rock of the corps was a defensive liability with his penchant for not remaining healthy, incessantly being sidelined with hamstring injuries. Just two seasons before, he was a rock at the backline, a key component for New York’s Supporters Shield bid.
A Case For The Red Bulls Defense
And earlier trade this season brought in forward Carlos Rivas and defender Tommy Redding, thus sending midfielder and former captain Sacha Kljestan to Orlando City, but after a few pre-season games had shown that having Redding in the back wasn’t nearly enough – they needed more.
So, with head coach Jesse Marsch and sporting director Denis Hamlett scouting around, they found what they were looking for in Vancouver, a trade was made with the Vancouver Whitecaps, bringing centerback and local product (born and raised in Hicksville, NY) Tim Parker for midfielder Felipe. On the surface removing a player that was a rock in midfield and a fan favorite for his aggressive ball hawking and annoying the daylights of opposing players, but this was a position of need and one that made sense.
The results, this season cannot be dismissed or even ignored, seven games in 2018 campaign, the offense has scored 15 goals in all competitions, the number of goals the defense has given up? Just three goals.
Tim Parker, as promised, made an immediate impact for the New York Red Bulls. Just days after being acquired in a trade, Parker was able to log one one-hour training session before being tabbed to start against Club Tijuana in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. Parker started, played the full 90 minutes, helping the Red Bulls to a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory in Mexico.
“I am an old-school defender,” Parker said. “It is easy being pretty on the ball, it is easy doing that kind of stuff, but not everyone wants to get stuck in tackles and block shots and do the intangibles, from what I have been told. I really enjoy that kind of aspect to it.” That type of defense will fit nicely into the back line, according to Marsch. “Another piece that is going to be a major rock to build the defensive foundation off of,” Marsch said. “We’re excited. We’re really excited.”
With the offense firing on all cylinders and the defense now collecting clean sheets, this crew is primed to make an impact this season as they compete in an Eastern Conference that’s anything but soft. The season will provide the crew of Parker, Long, Murillo, Escobar, Collin, Murillo, Lawrence, Ndam, Poliitz, Redding, Lade and Robles with opportunities to test their mettle and the NYRB faithful’s patience.
But at least the defense will be the least of their worries. For now…
One of the most popular out of all sports colloquiums is that “Defense wins championships”. This much is true. Can’t win games without keeping the other team off the scoreboard, you know. But time will only tell if that very phrase will hold true to a franchise and it’s long-suffering fan base that’s been starving for one for over two decades running.