Three observations from the Red Bulls’ 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake Saturday.
1. Signs of a Growing Partnership?
The biggest change for the New York Red Bulls this season has been a change in the formation. After utilizing a 4-2-3-1 look the past two seasons, head coach Jesse Marsch has opted to use a 4-2-2-2 look in 2017. By adding an extra striker to the front line, Marsch hopes to give Bradley Wright-Phillips some extra support in the final offensive third of the pitch.
On loan from Red Bulls Salzberg this season, Fredrik Gulbrandsen has been tabbed as the man to play off of BWP. Both forwards were held off the scoresheet on Saturday, but there were signs that showed the new tandem could have a huge impact later on in the season. Gulbrandsen had six shots in the match, while Wright-Phillips fired off four.
“We have to get better at [playing in this new formation], just like we got better at it in our normal formation,” Wright-Phillips said. “It took us time and I think that will come soon. It’s only four games in.”
Bradley Wright-Phillips says the defensive posture of Real Salt Lake will be something the Red Bulls will see more of this season.
2. Missing the Cutting Edge
Despite the change in the formation, the Red Bulls have shown no signs of remedying a problem that has plagued Marsch’s reign: beating teams playing in an ultra-defensive posture.
Dominating possession, the Red Bulls were unable to take advantage against Real Salt Lake and were left frustrated.
“Not getting the result [Saturday] or the three-points for me has nothing to do with two or three [in midfield],” Marsch said. “It has to do with just not taking our advantages well enough.”
Jesse Marsch holds his post-game press conference after the Red Bulls' 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake.
It didn’t help that Sacha Kljestan missed the match after being called up as an injury replacement for the US Men’s National Team.
3. Robles to the Rescue
Were it not for Luis Robles bailing out his backline, New York could have come away with zero points.
Standing in as captain for Kljestan, Robles made four saves against RSL and continues to be one of the best keepers in Major League Soccer.
“I felt like their chances came off of our miscues,” Robles said after the match. “But we got the shutout, we got the point. We’ll just continue to move on.”
Luis Robles talks about the strong defensive work by the Red Bulls in their 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake and the return of Connor Lade.
MSG Networks will air its first Red Bulls game this season Saturday with live coverage of the Red Bulls-Dynamo game from Houston. The Dynamo had a bye this week and suffered a 4-2 defeat to the Portland Timbers in their last match.