Running With the Bulls: New York Red Bulls Week in Review
Fixtures & Results
Match Day Eight – Wednesday, April 23rd @ Houston Dynamo – W (4-0)
Match Day Nine – Saturday, April 26th @ Columbus Crew – D (1-1)
After a hard fought 2-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union, the Red Bulls looked to continue their run of good form during a tight week of daunting challenges. On Wednesday, the Red Bulls were downright dominant against an uninspired and chronically inconsistent Houston squad, netting four goals and conceding very few chances to their opponents. Three evenings later the Red Bulls established that their offensive prowess is far from a flash in the pan, earning a 1-1 draw against a tough Columbus side in a match that will mainly be highlighted by missed chances.
The following are four reactionary thoughts following two unbeaten games and a solid week for the Red Bulls.
Bradley Wright-Phillips is in fine form.
The British international has been nothing short of a revelation since becoming a regular member of Mike Petke’s starting XI. Wednesday night against the Dynamo BWP was relentless, scoring his first MLS hat trick in a game in which he continually found open pockets inside the Houston 18. Shaun’s younger brother followed up that career-game with yet another stellar performance against Columbus’ superior back four. During a second half surge, Wright-Phillips took a feed from fellow Englishman Lloyd Sam, and with a masterful first touch and turn, beat Columbus keeper Steve Clark by ricocheting the ball off of the far post for the equalizer. BWP’s four-goal stretch earned him MLS Player of the Week honors as well as an inclusion on the Golden Boot short list.
Believe it or not; Thierry Henry deserves even more credit than he already has.
Say what you want, but in his current form, this guy could still be playing for one of the big clubs in Europe. The humble French international would never agree, yet the surge of offensive dominance the Red Bulls have had during their three game unbeaten streak is strictly due to the efforts of Henry. Playing beside the speedy Wright-Phillips, Henry has withdrawn himself from the front line, playing more like an attacking midfielder than a striker. His intelligent build up play and consistent calm-effective runs, have earned his teammates enough space for amble goal opportunities. Bradley Wright-Phillips may get the accolades and the awards this week, but none of his recent success would be possible without playing alongside Henry.
Luis Robles is good, very good. But the defense needs to continue this current run.
The former Kaiserslautern keeper deserves more of the national spotlight than he currently has. Just 25 years old, the Arizona native is developing into one of the league’s finest keepers. Compounding his three stellar years in New York with the several years prior spent earning regular time in the German first and second division, it is a mystery why Robles isn’t mentioned with the likes of Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, and Tally Hall as Brad Guzan’s potential backup during the next WC cycle. Robles is currently leading the MLS in saves, which itself is no mystery at all. Through the first six games the defense could not put a consistent 90 minutes together, resulting in numerous frustrating chances for opponents and providing a daunting workload for any keeper, let alone one as talented as Robles.
However, things may be starting to turn around. Over the last three games the Red Bulls have only surrendered two goals. With Armando returning from suspension and Richard Eckersley back at training, Manager Mike Petke has an interesting decision on the horizon. Petke can either insert his two winter transfer prizes back into the starting lineup, risking repeated struggles or stick with his current back-four and hope the chemistry and adapted defensive effort by the midfield continues the Red Bulls’ quality in the back. This week’s presser before the FC Dallas match should be interesting.
The missed chances need to be cleaned up against future opponents.
For the Red Bulls, it doesn’t get easier moving forward, and to stay on the right side of the playoff hunt, they’ll need to continue this impressive run. To earn some points against the first-place FC Dallas, as well as immensely talented Toronto FC and Chicago Fire squads, the Red Bulls will need to cut down on their mistakes. As good as the offense has been, believe it or not, they could be better. Especially against Columbus, the team squandered multiple scoring chances.
With playmakers such as Jermaine Defoe, Mauro Diaz, and Mike Magee highlighting the opposing attack in the coming matches, the Red Bulls will have to create the goals as the chances come. The aforementioned three very seldom miss their chances at goal, the Red Bulls must follow suit, or be prepared to play from behind.
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