The Red Bulls suffered a humbling 5-2 loss to Orlando City SC last Friday night for their first defeat at Red Bull Arena since May 24. But is there reason for concern for the Eastern Conference leaders?
Orlando had a plan to combat the Red Bulls’ press and employed it ruthlessly throughout the match. By putting men behind the ball — in other words, not committing players forward and allowing the Red Bulls to have the ball — and springing lightning-quick counterattacks, Orlando zeroed in on a potential flaw it noticed during advanced scouting for the match.
“I watched the New York-Chicago game and I saw that [David] Accam’s been doing it to a lot of people this year – he’s just like a cheetah out there – and I realize they press a lot so if we could break that first line of pressure, then the counter was on,” Orlando City midfielder Brek Shea said after the match.
The Red Bulls gave credit to Orlando for its tactics, but they also put the blame on themselves for how they performed in the loss.
“I think that our front six [players] didn’t do a good enough job winning the ball up the field,” Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty said. “And I don’t think [Orlando was] too dangerous from their possession. Then again, when they won the ball from us and they counter-attacked us, they just scored.”
While the defeat to Orlando was a setback, it didn’t prove to be too costly. The Red Bulls still lead the East by a point and lead MLS with 1.66 points per game after this weekend’s results. They are still in prime position for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand over their closest competition. Nevertheless, the result may have provided a sufficient wake-up call for Jesse Marsch’s team.
“I promise you this: This team won’t be fazed by this,” the Red Bulls’ head coach said in his postgame press conference. “It’s a hard one to take, it’s a kick in the teeth, but we will find a way to regroup and we’ll be ready to go again [this] weekend.”
A LOOK AHEAD: RED BULLS VS. COLUMBUS CREW SATURDAY
|Red Bulls||Columbus Crew|
|14-9-6 (48 Points)||Record||13-10-8 (47 Points)|
|9-3-2 (Home)||Home/Road Record||5-6-4 (Road)|
|1.75||Goals Per Game||1.61|
|1.28||Goals Allowed Per Game||1.64|
|Bradley Wright-Phillips (14)||Top Goal Scorer||Kei Kamara (22)|
|Sacha Kljestan (11)||Assists||Ethan Finlay (11)|
Saturday’s match against the Crew may prove to be decisive in the race of the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
A win over the Crew would extend the Red Bulls’ lead over Columbus to four points and give them some breathing room on one of their closest rivals.