You may have heard this once or twice in 2022, the New York Red Bulls are going for their first home win of the season. This time, it’s Wednesday night against the Chicago Fire. The pair have already played once this season, a wild 2-1 win for the Red Bulls at Soldier Field. One of the youngest teams in the league, much of the questions surrounding New York have been centered around one thing. Why can’t they win at home? It remains the only thing missing from what’s been a terrific start to the year. Yet, the answers for this topic aren’t so cut and dry, there are many angles to attack this.
The story so far in Red Bull Arena
As you know by now, the New York Red Bulls are in fifth place in the East as of this writing. Their road form has been a big reason, but their inability to win at home so far also plays a part. The numbers aren’t pretty. Three points won at home is the worst in the league. A minus-two goal differential in those five games is tied for the worst in MLS along with Inter Miami, Orlando and Toronto.
However, this team isn’t getting blown in their own ground. They’ve outshot each of their five opponents at home while integrating new players such as Luquinhas, Lewis Morgan and Ashley Fletcher into the side. Now, there have been moments where situations could’ve been handled better. For example, the late equalizer in the 1-1 draw against the Columbus Crew could’ve been stopped if someone committed a “professional foul” on an opposition player. Also, the miscue between Carlos Cornel and Tom Edwards in the 2-1 loss against CF Montreal was down to miscommunication and should’ve never happened.
Since that loss to the Canadian outfit, New York is seven games unbeaten in all competitions. Yes, it includes two home draws. The play of Luquinhas lately has made him the team’s danger man and earned him MLS Team of the Week honors. He stands out every time he plays, and that makes those around him better. Whether away or at home, as is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 16, 2022
What can the Red Bulls do to turn home form around?
Here’s where answering this is a little tricky. Traditionally, home teams assume more of the ball while the other team sits back and looks to attack the counter. It’s part of the reason the attack has stalled a bit, only notching three goals. Their build-up at home has seen them move the ball more from side to side, on the wings as opposed to going more direct.
Against Chicago, chances will come easier as they have leaked goals like it’s Halloween. They’ve become a “get right” opponent at the moment, which will play right into the hands of Gerhard Struber and his players. Lately, New York has been able to operate with its opponents with more freedom and more efficiency. The sudden emergence of Cameron Harper as a right wing-back saw him grab an assist in the 1-1 draw at Philadelphia, which was a nice surprise. The youngster presents a threat with his dribbling and crossing ability. It was something that was lacking from the position at the start of the year. Whether he gets more playing time remains to be seen.
DOS ✌️ pic.twitter.com/0YpDQZNwqc
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) April 25, 2022
More direct runs into the box needs to happen too. There are many examples of goals of this kind in their road successes. Luquinhas at Philly, Cristian Casseres Jr at Orlando as seen above, Klimala and Morgan at Chicago and Toronto respectively. Of course, this is easier said than done, but the Red Bulls have enough in attack to correct their scoring woes at home in short order.
The upcoming home schedule bodes well
After Chicago on Wednesday night, the home schedule looks favorable to the Red Bulls. Their next three games in Harrison are against DC United, Toronto FC and Atlanta United. All those teams are currently facing bigger dilemmas than New York. Three wins from three won’t be out of the realm of possibility, and the team is slowly getting whole.
“I think everyone knows that it’s right now the time to realize at home a big performance, Struber said. We will bring players on the field that are fresh from the mindset, fresh from the physical side, and ready for three points”.
And that’s where perspective comes into play. The one constant that has remained great about this team is its defense. It still averages less than a goal a game, despite missing a stud centerback like Andres Reyes. Caden Clark has been out of action, but he adds creativity and goal threat to the attack. Only Montreal, NYCFC and New England have scored more goals than the Red Bulls. And the team is one point out of first place, and will surely add more quality in the summer transfer window.
“The team’s feeling good, two good performances at the Open Cup and then coming back in Philly, so the boys are feeling good and confident, said Tom Barlow. We’re looking forward to this game Wednesday. We just recently played them [Chicago] a couple weeks ago and got a good result in Chicago. We’re just looking to continue the momentum and get three points at home for the first win of the season”.
This team is deeper, and simply more improved from last year. They’ve learned the lessons of 2021, and once they win at home, the league will really take notice.