Seeing Red SSC: MLS Week Two

New York’s rotated schedule didn’t click in the attack, and the Red Bulls stumbled to their first competitive loss of 2018 Saturday Night at Salt Lake, where the Boys In White have never won a regular-season game. The result was a buzz kill for fans ecstatic about the Red Bulls’ early success, but greener pastures lie ahead. Let’s look at what New York Red Bulls fans, need to start, stop, and continue in the week ahead.

START

Practicing Zen Mode

Saturday’s loss in Salt Lake was New York’s fifth match in seventeen days. While Jesse Marsch rotated the heck out of his lineups, sometimes guys need a break, especially as the club works its way up to full fitness.

Note that BWP, Adams, and Long are the only Red Bulls to have played in every match.  While Saturday’s result is disappointing, if there’s ever a time to drop points, it’s on the road at a Western Conference opponent. In March.

Worrying about Injuries and International Absences

Neither Sean Davis nor Kemar Lawrence made the trip to the Wasatch mountains, with both picking up injuries in the Red Bulls’ CCL win over Tijuana last Tuesday.  While a long-term report of the health of these two important first-teamers is a day away, New York must also deal with national-team call-ups to Adams (US), Murillo and Escobar (Panama) and Lawrence (Jamaica) that will prevent those players from taking part in Saturday’s home match with a surprising Minnesota side.

STOP

Wondering about the size of New York’s hard-core fan base. It’s small.

This point remains in place from the first SSC column of the year, especially given the paltry 6,000 brave souls that came out for New York’s CCL Quarterfinal home leg. The Red Bulls’ Front Office has devised a plan to leverage Chivas fans’ interest in attending the Semi at Red Bull Arena on April 10: bundling tickets to the CCL match with two other 2018 RBNY games. In theory, the higher out-of-pocket price may keep Chivas fans away from the match, while bringing in more New York fans who are non-season ticket holders. However, rabid New York-area Goats fanatics, who have rarely shown interest in attending MLS matches, will surely pay whatever the price to see their beloved team in action. They’ll then dump the other RBNY tickets on the secondary market. Meanwhile, current season ticket holders can’t buy additional tickets to the match without buying the larger bundle. The CCL Semi is sure to sell out, and will be filled with Chivas fans, anyway. It won’t be fun for the few thousand die hards who bleed for the Red Bulls.

CONTINUE

Watching Kaku

Saturday night marked Kaku Gamarra’s first ninety-minute appearance for New York. On a night when shots were few as the RSL bunkered for most of the match, Kaku showed how well he’s combining with his teammates. He didn’t make any key passes that led to scoring opportunities, and missed a connecting late with BWP, but it’s been a pleasure to watch the Young DP come along.

The above is Gamarra’s passing map from Saturday night. Green lines are completed passes, red are incomplete. By the Chivas series, Kaku should be completely integrated into the first team. THAT will be fun to watch.

Feeling Good About the RB2 Pipeline

With so many first teamers developing out of the USL squad, it’s appropriate to ask which young players are in line to match the jump in the next few months or seasons. One player to watch is Red Bulls II’s Andrew Tinari. The diminutive midfielder out of Columbia University scored both goals in RB2’s 2018 season-opening win Saturday afternoon against Toronto FC II. New York came from behind after conceding a sloppy goal in the first half, and keeper Evan Louro’s save off a TFC II penalty kick after halftime to notch the win.

Red Bulls SSC: Concacaf Champions League Rd of 16

Former Seeing Red Daily subscribers will recognize the Stop, Start, Continue (SSC) review format. Mark will continue writing the column here during the 2018 season.

Photo Credit: Matt Kremkau

The Red Bulls were better than Olimpia over the two legs of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 tie, not only outscoring the Honduran club 3-1, but bossing both games, eventually proving their fitness, and managing their opponents’ pressure. The stakes get higher and the opposition better in the Quarterfinals. What does New York need start, stop, and continue in order to advance to the CCL Semis for the first time in club history?

START

Feeling comfortable with the impending Felipe trade

Martins has been an iron man for the Red Bulls during his time with the club, missing only two regular season matches over the last three campaigns. However, New York desperately needs centerback depth, with Collin’s durability a question mark and neither Redding, Politz, or Ndam ready to step in on a regular basis. However, the play of Rzatkowski last night was a revelation. If he and Adams can lock down the defensive midfield, the Felipe for Vancouver CB Tim Parker trade makes a ton of sense.

Being concerned about Murillo

Amir had a difficult match last night. While he was given a tough assignment facing Olimpia’s star, Michael Chirinos, the Panamanian international was often out-of-sync with his teammates. Murillo was cut out frequently by the Olimpia attack, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on Aurelien Collin. Moving forward, Murillo had trouble linking with Alex Muyl. While Muriilo was more effective in New York’s five-man defensive formation, Jesse Marsch needs sharper play from his wingbacks.

STOP

Wondering about the size of New York’s hard-core fan base

It’s small. Smaller than some would like to admit. Of the announced 9,000 plus in attendance at Red Bull Arena last night, I’d estimate that only thirty to forty percent were there to support the home side. Yes, we’re taking about a rainy weeknight match in March, but New York fans were frequently drowned out by the full-voiced Olimpia supporters. Given that Tijuana’s a relatively new team, I’m unsure that the ratio will be the same on the 13th for the quarterfinals home leg. However, last night Red Bulls fans showed their ambivalence toward what should be an exciting team to watch this year.

CONTINUE

Shooting the ball

Last year’s Red Bulls often suffered from waiting for the perfect shot before going at goal. Last night’s first half saw a number of near-chances and almost-shots, but never a true good blast on frame. BWP’s laser notwithstanding, Red Bulls fans had to be overjoyed with Sean Davis creating some space near the top of the box and simply firing at goal. His deflection off a defender effectively ended the tie. With the high press creating opportunities, New York mustn’t wait for the perfect opportunity, but must shoot from all angles and distances. Good things will happen.

Appreciating Aaron Long

The Red Bulls have Long to thank for keeping Olimpia off the board last night. The second-year Red Bull snuffed out numerous attacks, had four clearances and three interceptions. Long also held aging Olimpia scoring legend Carlos Costly without a shot in the second half.