Scoring hasn’t been going according to plan for the Red Bulls this season.
In three out of the first four matches, the defending Supporters’ Shield winners have been held off the scoreboard. The Red Bulls have been hit with crippling injuries on defense with Ronald Zubar, Gideon Baah and Kemar Lawrence all sidelined. Bradley Wright-Phillips has yet to find the back of the net after being one of Major League Soccer’s most prolific strikers in the last two seasons (34 goals in 66 games).
So, is it time to panic?
To quote Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers:
Here are three reasons why you should do as Mr. Discount Double Check says and not get too concerned with the team’s slow start.
1) The Red Bulls Are Still Averaging the Same Amount of Shots
Although the Red Bulls have only managed four goals this season – all in one match – their shot totals suggest that their goal totals should go up in future matches. According to Whoscored.com, they’re averaging 14.5 shots per game, which ranks fifth in Major League Soccer. In 2015, the Red Bulls averaged 14.0 shots per game, second in MLS. They led the league with 62 goals last season.
So why is this information important? Simply put, the more shots you have, the more chances you have to score. If the Red Bulls’ shots per game average stays the same, the goals will eventually come … right?
2) The Red Bulls Are Shooting From Dangerous Areas
It’s not just about having a lot of shots, it’s also about getting into the areas that trouble opposing teams the most.
The 18-yard box – otherwise known as the penalty box – is generally where you want to shoot from. According to Whoscored, the Red Bulls are leading MLS with a whopping 69 percent of their shots coming from within the 18-yard box.
What the data shows is that Jesse Marsch’s side is creating chances, they’re just not finishing them through four games. The likes of Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan haven’t forgotten how to shoot. Their records indicate that they’ll find the back of the net soon … right?
3) It’s Still Early!
If the season ended today, the Red Bulls would find themselves out of the playoffs.
Thankfully, the season doesn’t end today or in the next few months. Injuries have played a major part to the slow start and the expectation is that Zubar, Baah and Damien Perrinelle should be available soon. Having a consistent backline can only help the rest of the starting lineup and things should start rounding into form soon … right?
Still smarting from their controversial 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution last Saturday, the Red Bulls look to turn things around against Sporting KC at Red Bull Arena.
With Baah, Zubar, Perrinelle and Lawrence all expected to be out for Saturday’s match, Marsch will have to reshuffle his defensive deck. Karl Ouimette was paired Chris Duvall in central defense when Lawrence went down against New England and that could be the pairing for the upcoming match.
New York will need to look out for Sporting KC striker Dom Dwyer, who leads the team with two goals this season. A natural poacher, Dwyer has the speed and finishing ability to give the Red Bulls fits.
Despite missing key players, Duvall remains confident that the Red Bulls will find a way to get through this rough patch.
“We have the guys on the roster that we have confidence in, so I don’t think it will be a problem,” he said after the match vs. New England.
“It’s just a matter of making sure everyone stays together and we get behind the injured guys. I’ve been on both sides of it now and it will be an interesting experience. We’ve got a good team and a good group of guys, so I think we’ll pull together and we’ll be fine.”