Trying to balance MLS League play with CONCACAF Champions League, Red Bulls Coach Jesse Marsch has opted to bench usual starts more than once. This test of the team’s depth has produced mixed results for the regular league. Standout play from like Florian Valot and Derrick Etienne Jr. have provided Marsch with some confidence in attacking depth. Defensively the results have been more inconsistent from player to player.
First Team Firsts for Mines, Etienne Jr. and Valot
Homegrown midfielder Ben Mines scored during his MLS debut. A member of USL affiliate RBNYII last season, Mines was one of 5 USL players to sign with the first team for the 2018 season. In Orlando, midfielder Florian Valot opened his MLS account in the 7th minute, followed by Derrick Etienne Jr. and Aaron Long with their first goals for the current season, their 2nd with the First Team. Mines’s goal was the start of a resounding 4-0 win against Portland; however, the three goals were not enough to get past the Lions, a 4-3 loss.
Back Line Depth
Aaron Long is just a part of the re-tooled defense in 2018, and one of the few holdovers from seasons past. This season the club brought in Tim Parker and Kyle Duncan, who integrated with the team almost immediately. Tommy Redding was another recent transfer to RBNY, but his performance in Orlando left something to be desired against his former team. Elder statesmen Aurelien Collin (32 years) and Connor Lade (28 years) bring stability to the back line along with International players Fidel Escobar, Michael Amir Murillo, and Kemar Lawrence. International duty and injury proved to be another test for the team in recent weeks.
Back to Altitude
With nearly no turnaround time, the Red Bulls began their preparations for the Champions League semifinals against Chivas Guadalajara (Wednesday April 4th 10pm/ Tuesday April 10th 8pm). They trained in Orlando, set to fly to Mexico on Monday. There they will acclimate to the over 5000′ elevation and play against a club that Marsch worked alongside near the end of his MLS playing career. Was it worth dropping MLS points to see the Red Bulls advance in Champions League? Fans will find out soon enough.