BULLS RUN: HEY DAX, YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR
The date was June 27, 2011.
The Red Bulls were looking to change the dynamic of their team. Despite having big stars such as Thierry Henry and Dwayne De Rosario in the fold, New York struggled to integrate its new pieces effectively and was languishing in the standings.
It was time for a change. Then-General Manager Erik Solér decided to pull the trigger on a stunning trade. New York would send De Rosario — a seven-time MLS All-Star — to rivals DC United for a then-24-year-old central midfielder named Dax McCarty.
It was a move that raised many eyebrows around the league. After all, De Rosario had just joined the Red Bulls during the previous offseason and had a track record of success. McCarty was a talented youngster, but had yet to find constancy in his stints with FC Dallas and DC United.
But Solér saw something special in McCarty and gambled that the younger player would give the Red Bulls the right type of balance they needed desperately.
“Dax is an exciting young player who will immediately add his dynamic style of play to our midfield,” said Solér at of the trade at the time. “He is an excellent two-way player who will contribute both to our defense and to our attack for seasons to come.”
Those words turned out to be prophetic.
The now 28-year-old has been a consummate professional from the moment he made his Red Bulls debut on July 2, 2011. He has been everything anyone could have hoped for in midfield – a helpful screen in front of the defense and the architect of most of the Red Bulls’ attacking moves.
It’s why his All-Star berth is well-deserved. McCarty will be the lone Red Bulls’ representative on the 2015 MLS All-Star Team after being named as an injury replacement by Commissioner Don Garber for New York City FC midfielder Frank Lampard.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” he said last Saturday. “When it’s unexpected like that, it’s even more exciting. [I’m] definitely proud, humbled and honored to be joining the team.”
The numbers this season for the Winter Park, FL native merit the selection. According to whoscored.com, McCarty is tied for fourth in average tackles made per match (3.7). He’s also second in average passes made per game with 66.5 per match and second on the Red Bulls with five assists this season. McCarty has been the model of consistency, something that his head coach appreciates.
“[Dax] has had a very good season,” Jesse Marsch said to the media after the selection was announced. “He’s established himself in the group as a true captain and he’s gotten better as [the season] has gone on.”
McCarty remained humble about the selection and said he took more pride in being a representative of the Red Bulls’ franchise.
“I’m very proud and honored, but I’ve never been about the individual accolades and I never will be,” he said. “That being said, to represent the club, to have it being my first time going to an All-Star Game, I’m flattered.”
A LOOK AHEAD: RED BULLS AT UNION SATURDAY
|7-6-5 (29 Points)||Record||6-7-6 (24 Points)|
|3-3-4 (Road)||Home/Road Record||5-2-4 (Home)|
|1.52||Goals Per Game||1.23|
|1.21||Goals Allowed Per Game||1.61|
|Bradley Wright-Phillips (8)||Top Goal Scorer||C.J. Sapong (6)|
|Bradley Wright-Phillips (6)||Assists||Cristian Maidana (9)|
If there’s one team that has been pain to the Red Bulls this season, it’s the Philadelphia Union.
Philly has beaten New York twice this season, both instances at Red Bull Arena. The Union pulled off the upset on May 24 with a 2-0 win in Harrison, NJ. They then knocked the Red Bulls out from the US Open Cup by outlasting the home side on penalties last Tuesday.
[The matches] have been very similar,” Marsch said after the Open Cup loss. “Philly has our number right now, so good for them. The good news is we play them again Aug. 1, so we won’t let that derail us. We’ll be ready to recharge our batteries and go again.”
Marsch’s men will get another chance for revenge Saturday, as they head down the Turnpike to take on the Union. Live coverage gets underway at 7 PM on MSG.
The key to the Union’s success has been the ability to hit the Red Bulls in transition. During the May 24 encounter, the Union took the three points despite being out-possessed in the match. New York enjoyed a 65.5-34.5 split of possession on May 24 and had even more of the ball in the Open Cup match. Despite Philadelphia being down to 10 men due to a red card to Conor Casey, the Red Bulls were only able to find the net once and suffered a heartbreaking loss in the shootout.
“That’s two games against Philly where you feel like we’re in control for a lot of the game, but we’re just unable to make plays and punish them,” Marsch said. “And on the other side, they were able to make plays and punish us.”
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Tina Cervasio: Clyde Is …
From hours on a plane to dinners in media dining, here’s what I’ve learned about life from Clyde:
WHEN CLYDE WAS …
Winning championships for the New York Knicks, I wasn’t even on this earth. But he was capturing the attention of my father, an athlete and NBA fan.
WHEN CLYDE BECAME …
One of my colleagues, a new coworker I would work alongside after coming to MSG in 2008, I turned to my father, “I’ve seen the highlights, and have been watching the historical shows, but what did you feel like when you watched him play, Dad?”
WHEN CLYDE WAS …
“… in the game, he had a smooth style of play that showed no frustration. There was no anxiety in his moves or decisions, his demeanor was flawless. It was as if he was playing the game under direct orders from God. Perfect. Almost mystical.” My father would tell me.
WHEN CLYDE TALKS …
To me – and he answers my many questions about what he thought about when he played – my impression is, while he was fiercely competitive, it wasn’t about the competition or opponent, because he was prepared. He was ready to just slide through opposing players, never making a bad move, rhythmically or effortlessly to win.
CLYDE IS …
Still the same way. A smooth style, calm demeanor, prepared, effortless, rhythmical. It’s all in his clothes, personality, broadcasting today. Even over four decades after the pinnacle of his playing career, when he talks about the greatest moments in his game, he still remains in the current moment: Smiling, reflecting, always bringing the past to the present, to make a positive impact.
CLYDE KNOWS …
How to live. Evolving as a player from the late 60s through the 70s, he also evolved as a man, becoming an icon. Now a famed broadcaster, business owner and legend. But over these past 50 years, it seems like no time has passed. He stands tall, energetic, tireless. He continues to portray a calm and youthful disposition, demolishing the definition of time. But – much like when he became a basketball Hall of Famer – he sticks to the process. He’s still lifting weights at the gym, doing yoga on the road in his hotel room and eating healthy foods and taking vitamins (we’ve compared our vitamin bags before). This process allows him to continue enjoying life, showing an appreciation of each moment. Clyde is always positive. Always grateful. As a man who grew up in a segregated south, it’s amazing how he never shows any resentment.
CLYDE HAS …
What seems like an internal compass inside of him, keeping him moving (physically and mentally) even in the midst of a fray or storm. Maybe this was one of the things which attributed to his success on the court.
CLYDE TODAY …
Still embodies all that made him a success through the years. Those people who have success, make you feel better about yourself after you have been with them. After I spend time with Clyde, even in a pre-game meeting or when my parents have met him before games or at his restaurant, I feel better about myself. Not because he’s a legend, but because of the person who is taking time to relate to me.
CLYDE IS …
CLYDE IS …
I am grateful for his friendship and mentorship through the years.
BULLS RUN: INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Despite some tumultuous moments during the 2015 season, the Red Bulls find themselves in a good position in the Eastern Conference.
New York is in second place with 26 points through 18 games and nine points behind first-place D.C. United with three games in hand. While the Red Bulls’ overall record is just a game over .500 (7-6-5), the advanced analytics predict good things for the second half.
Statistical analysis of an advanced nature has invaded the realm of soccer like it has in other sports such as baseball, basketball and even hockey. Dedicated Twitter accounts, such as @OptaJack and @Whoscored, are revolutionizing the game for fans by providing stats for more than just goals and assists.
But how do they relate to the Red Bulls and how we look at them? Here’s a (rudimentary) breakdown of some of the numbers.
*ALL STATS AND IMAGES COURTESY OF OPTA & WHOSCORED.COM*
The Red Bulls Get a Lot of Quality Shots
New York is second in the league with 14.4 shots per game, trailing only the Chicago Fire, but that statistic tells only part of the story. The Red Bulls are getting most of the shots inside the penalty box and they’re testing the opposing goalkeeper on a regular basis. According to whoscored.com, the Red Bulls lead the league in shots on target (5.3). They also lead the league in average shots in the penalty area (8.1) and tied for the lead in shots in the six-yard box (1.1).
So, what does this mean? From the data, we can ascertain that the Red Bulls are getting shots in good areas. They’re tied for second in the league in goals scored (27) and that number will only improve with the shot totals trending in a positive direction.
You Won’t See the Red Bulls Playing a Lot of Long Passes
Most teams that play the long ball or “hoof” are considered somewhat one-dimensional when it comes to their style of play.
Jesse Marsch’s playing philosophy is the antithesis of that. The Red Bulls’ head coach has his team playing an attractive short-passing style that avoids the long hoof to a target man. New York has played the fewest long balls in the league (58) and is third in MLS with the number of short passes played (375).
The Red Bulls Will See More of the Ball in Most Matches
Possession statistics in soccer can be somewhat misleading; just because you have more possession than your opponent, doesn’t mean you’re going to win a match. Some teams thrive on the opposition having the ball and striking quickly via counterattacks.
Nevertheless, it does indicate which team is able to dictate control of the game. Three of Europe’s top leagues – La Liga, Ligue Un and the Bundesliga – were won by teams which led in percentage of ball possession. According to whoscored.com, the Red Bulls are second in Major League Soccer with an average of 54 percent ball possession in matches this season.
Matt Miazga and Dax McCarty Have Been Stellar
One would think that the Red Bulls’ top scorers – Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam – would be considered the team’s top performers, but according to the advanced stats, that hasn’t been the case.
Matt Miazga has been a rock-solid center back since being inserted into the starting lineup by Marsch. The 20-year-old’s prowess in the air makes him a terrific defender. According to whoscored, his aerial duels won average is best in the league (5.1) and his ability to get clear of the ball in dangerous areas also ranks high (7.6).
Dax McCarty also ranks highly in advanced statistics. According to the OptaJack account, McCarty is the only MLS player to complete at least 890 passes with an 84 percent pass accuracy. He’s also highly proficient in tackles made. According to whoscored, the Red Bulls’ captain is tied for third in average tackles made per game (3.8).
What It All Means
It’s likely fair to say that the Red Bulls’ overall record should be better than what it is. Adjusting to a new coaching staff, injuries and missing personnel due to international commitments have played in factor in dropped points.
Nevertheless, a quick look at the data shows that the team is heading in the right direction. It’s an encouraging sign for the second half of the season.
A LOOK AHEAD: RED BULLS AT ORLANDO CITY SATURDAY
|Red Bulls||Orlando City SC|
|7-6-5 (26 Points)||Record||6-7-6 (24 Points)|
|2-3-4 (Road)||Home/Road Record||3-3-4 (Home)|
|1.50||Goals Per Game||1.21|
|1.28||Goals Allowed Per Game||1.26|
|Bradley Wright-Phillips (8)||Top Goal Scorer||Kaka (9)|
|Bradley Wright-Phillips (8)||Assists||Pedro Ribeiro (2)|
After last week’s 4-1 demolition of the Revolution, the Red Bulls head back on the road and take on expansion side Orlando City SC. Live coverage of the match gets under way Saturday at 7 PM on MSG.
Any discussion about Orlando City starts and begins with Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaka. A former winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or, the Brazilian legend has taken to life in MLS. He’s scored nine of Orlando’s 23 goals this season and obviously still has something left in the tank at the age of 33.
The man in charge of marking Kaka will be the Red Bulls’ captain, Dax McCarty. A native of Winter Park, FL, McCarty reflected on playing a MLS match 10 minutes from his childhood home.
BULLS RUN: ABANG STEPS UP IN STARTING ROLE
It’s a lot of pressure for a 19-year-old to be the lead striker for a Major League Soccer team, but that’s exactly the role Anatole Abang has been put in to.
The 6-foot-1 hulking forward has been coach Jesse Marsch’s preferred choice as the Red Bulls‘ lone front man in recent weeks, with veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips shifted to the left wing in the team’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Including the US Open Cup win over the Cosmos on July 1, the Red Bulls are 3-1-0 in the four matches Abang has started.
The Cameroonian is gifted with two things that make him an effective striker: Pace and power. His game-opening goal in last Saturday’s 2-1 Red Bulls loss in Columbus provided the perfect example of his abilities.
Abang deftly controlled Felipe’s pass with a delicate touch in midfield. His layoff to Wright-Phillips allowed him to sprint forward past the defense. After a perfectly weighted pass from BWP, Abang completed the move with a goal he made look easy. With his run taking him in the opposite direction, Abang let go of a perfectly placed shot past Crew goalie Steve Clark.
“Abang has been a big threat and has been a big, physical presence for us,” Marsch said to the media in his post-match comments Saturday. “So it was a very good goal and it was a way we knew we could punish [Columbus] by making their defenders turn and have to run and deal with our athleticism and our pace.”
With the loss of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill in the offseason, the main concern for the Red Bulls heading into this season was figuring out where the goals would come from. The initial thought was that New York would have to wait until the summer transfer window to address their lack of scoring punch. But it is Abang, a signing from Rainbow FC, that has stepped up.
Will the rookie be able to keep it going? That remains to be seen. It’s his first full MLS season and there are bound to be down points. In the meantime, the Red Bulls won’t complain about his efforts so far.
Shorthanded at Full Back
The Red Bulls find themselves in dire need of able-bodied full backs after starting right back Chris Duvall was lost for three-to-four months with a broken fibula.
With Duvall sidelined and left backs Roy Miller (Costa Rica) and Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica) joining their respective national teams for CONCACAF Gold Cup duty, Marsch will have to rely on unproven players for the time being. Connor Lade, who is naturally a left back, was used at right back during Saturday’s loss in Columbus.
Veteran Anthony Wallace and youngster Shawn McLaws are the two likeliest candidates to fill in for the Red Bulls for the time being.
A Look Ahead: Saturday vs. New England Revolution
It’s another Eastern Conference matchup for the Red Bulls, as they take on the rival New England Revolution Saturday at Red Bull Arena.
The Revs have already beaten the Red Bulls this season – after New York fell 2-1 in New England back on May 2 – and were responsible for ending New York’s MLS Cup hopes in the playoffs last season.
The Revolution has many attacking options at its disposal, including one familiar face to Red Bulls fans. Former US international Charlie Davies leads the team with seven goals and the quick striker has already scored this season against New York.
Former Red Bull Juan Agudelo did not start in New England’s 3-0 loss to FC Dallas last Saturday, but did come off the bench for Davies in the 56th minute. With four goals to his name this season, the New Jersey native will be looking to get one over his former team.
After playing in three games last week, Marsch gave his players time off to rest and recuperate for this Saturday’s matchup. Despite the setback over the July 4 weekend, the Red Bulls remain confident and are eagerly looking forward to the game.
“This is such a positive group, such a positive place and we will be ready to kick on,” midfielder Mike Grella said to the media after the loss to the Crew. “Like I’ve said many times, this is a really long season, we’re not down, we’re just going to continue to work as hard as we possibly can and the results will come.”