New York Red Bulls Fail to Finish, Drop Result to Chicago Fire: Three Thoughts

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Harrison, NJ – The New York Red Bulls dropped a 2-1 result to the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena yesterday afternoon. Heading into the game, New York was the clear favorite based on offensive firepower and Chicago’s slow start to 2018. The match saw the Daniel Royer goal-scoring drought worsen, RBNY struggle to put chances away, and left Jesse Marsch asking questions of his personnel post-game.

New York Red Bulls Fail to Finish, Drop Result to Chicago Fire: Three Thoughts

Daniel Royer’s Struggles Worsen

As far as finishing goes, no Red Bull is in more pain than Daniel Royer. He has not scored a goal this MLS campaign, and he hasn’t scored in all competitions since February 22 when RBNY drew CD Olimpia in the first leg of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16.

Against the Fire, Royer had three shots, one of which smacked the crossbar, and another forced an incredible save. Then, finally, he punched a cross into the back of the net and began celebrating only to have the goal called back for offside on Derrick Etienne Jr. Royer was visibly frustrated and furious with himself by that point.

Jesse Marsch mentioned that during the game talk on the RBNY bench was about what Royer could possibly do to score a goal. “It’s been that kind of start to the year for Danny.” he said. “When you’re an attacking player and a scorer, you’ve got to work
your way through that.”

Royer reiterated some of Marsch’s sentiments about himself, saying that it is a rough patch, but he needs to work through it. He focused on the team as a whole in his post-game press conference. “I have to fight through this, we all have to. It’s good that we create chances but we have to take them.”

Attacking Strategy

New York controlled the game from the outset, dominating the ball in the opposing half. The script would not agree with the statistics this time, as 22 shots and 63 percent possession went to the losing team. The way this game went is all too familiar to Red Bulls’ fans after the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals exit at the hands of Chivas de Guadalajara.

When asked if Saturday’s game reminded him of the Chivas bout, RBNY striker and lone goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips said no and that, “the opportunities were decent this time.” The MLS veteran said of the team, “we didn’t take our chances,” and that no part of New York’s play was successful.

Fire GK Richard Sanchez deserves an abundance of credit for the Red Bulls’ failures on Saturday. Sanchez stood on his head to halt the RBNY attack, notching nine saves, some of them from point-blank range.

Towards the beginning of the game, New York was looking to play out of the back, using CB’s Tim Parker and Aaron Long to distribute the ball. As the game wore on, the Red Bulls started to send the ball up the field in the air. These long balls were largely ineffective but were looking to penetrate the sunken-in Fire defense.

“They dropped off and sat back on us so we tried to put the ball up the field so we could
pick it up in better spots and we could go from there. We had some success with it but
not as much as we would have liked,” said Parker.

In the end, the long ball game was fruitless for Jesse Marsch’s side. Chicago ate up the aerials and won the second balls to clear the area. Michael Amir Murillo and Kemar Lawrence were less effective exploiting the wings on the day than usual. Also, credit Brandon Vincent and Kevin Ellis for securing the outside play for the Fire and not allowing as many opportunities for crosses into Wright-Phillips.

Marsch’s Plan?

After the match, Jesse Marsch expressed his confusion when his squad began playing long balls for the majority of the second half.

“I was a little bit perplexed why we all of a sudden just started trying
long balls,” he said. He attributed some of this behavior and play to the anxiety of a young team down two goals at home late in the game. Marsch said he has seen maturity and composure from this team in previous games but, “this week, not as much, and there’s still more to work on.”

Regardless of how Marsch and the players may brush this off, the concern has to be there for Red Bull’s fans: Why are the players and coaches not on the same page tactically? And why, after Plan-A did not work, is there not a predetermined Plan-B in place?

The head coach of any team should not be able to walk off the field and say he is not sure why his team started to execute a different tactical plan than what was apparently discussed. Tim Parker said the team switched to long balls to try and penetrate deeper instead of playing out of the back, but if Marsch did not sanction such a game plan, then maybe there is some kind of a disconnect.

Whatever that may be, RBNY has less than a week to figure it out before they travel to take on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy next Saturday.

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