(SEATTLE, WA)- The New York Red Bulls dropped their first MLS regular season game in eight months losing 3-1 to Seattle Sounders at Centurylink field Sunday evening. Seattle feasted on the Red Bull’s high press, countering with deadly efficiency. The Red Bulls needed to limit their mistakes against an experienced and potent attack like Seattle. While the result will surely frustrate the Red Bull faithful, it was a result telegraphed. Here’s three things I noticed.
Three Things I Noticed: Red Bulls Fall To Sounders 3-1
Figuring Out The First Half
The Red Bulls have had trouble getting started this year, and that juxtaposes itself perfectly against last year’s troubles. If 2016 was the year of the late slip, 2017 is the year of the false start. The Red Bulls had a hard time getting started in four of their first five games in all competitions, .
The culprit in the first half against Seattle was rushing their play. Rather than take their time in possession, the Red Bulls seemed anxious trying to force quick ball movement. The result was a large amount of turnovers on the fast surface at CenturyLink. Seattle capitalized numerous times with quick counter attacks. The Sounders speed sets up well against a high back line. The Red Bulls created their own problems through turnovers.
Seattle finally capitalized thanks to a bad back pass from Damien Perrinelle. The defender played the ball back to Robles too softly. Jordan Morris saw the opportunity to pressure and forced Robles into decisive action. His attempt to clear the ball fouled Morris and the Sounders converted the proceeding penalty.
The slow issue is likely the team still rounding into form, but they must be careful it does not become a trend.
Kljestan On The Wing
Sacha Kljestan is not suited for his wide role. It is a hard truth that the Red Bulls need to swallow. He does not look comfortable with the role and it shows. The Red Bulls have looked best this year when the captain has taken a more central position, but the insistence of the 4-2-2-2 has left the talented attacker without a position.
He isn’t capable of covering the defensive responsibilities of Sean Davis and Felipe. He doesn’t possess the speed the Red Bulls deem necessary to partner Wright-Phillips up top. So what do they do with last year’s MLS assist leader? The answer could be to deploy a 4-2-3-1 as they had in year’s past and use the second half to change the team’s look when needed.
Jesse Marsch must take more time to make a decision, but the early returns have been mixed at best.
Zizzo Up Zizzo Down
Sal Zizzo is having a very strange season. He is the Red Bulls assist leader in all competitions, and complicit in a number of goals the Red Bulls conceded. The arrival of Michael Murillo this offseason seemed to spell the notion that Zizzo would see the field, yet game after game, Sal is in the starting eleven. What is keeping him on the field?
Zizzo managed to feature in the highlights twice on the night. First, his pinpoint cross found a streaking Wright-Phillips in the box for a 57th minute equalizer. Nine minutes later, Zizzo was nutmegged on the way to the Sounder’s game-winning goal. This “Jekyll and Hyde” play has typified Zizzo’s play this year. Despite the Red Bulls early success, it is a position of worry moving forward.
Connor Lade made a rehab start for Red Bulls II to finish out their preseason against Bethlehem Steel. Red Bull fans will be hoping Lade or Murillo can show their merit on the practice field lest the trend continue.