Takeaways from NY Red Bulls’ 2-0 win over CD Olimpia
On a rainy Red Bull Arena, goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sean Davis helped the NY Red Bulls advance to the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals, beating CD Olimpia 2-0.
The Hondurans were over-matched in terms of speed and efficiency, leaving them only to create opportunities via the counter-attack. The Red Bulls could’ve put this game away in the first half – we’ll get to that later – but they didn’t lose their cool. B.W.P put the hosts in front with a delightful finish from outside the box after managing to spin around his marker, opening the scoring in the 54th minute. Davis would add another via a deflection just 10 minutes later, putting the game and tie out of reach, 3-1 on aggregate.
Here are the takeaways from this game.
1. Bradley Wright-Phillips, Luis Robles prove they’re indispensable
Have there been anymore important players to this club in the last five years than these two? One is the all-time leading goalscorer for the club, and the other is the Ironman – the most consecutive appearances in MLS history.
And on Thursday night, they both proved yet again their importance to the club and its fans as they both put in magnificent performances. Arguably the man-of-the-match, Wright-Phillips was the most dangerous player on the pitch leading the line for the MLS club. His pressing created turnovers, he’s got a knack for linking up play and allowing wingers such Royer, Muyl and Kaku into the game. The shift that he puts in can not be overstated, as humble a guy as there is, he’s the guy the Red Bulls look to whenever they need a goal.
And that’s ultimately how we judge goal-scorers, on their ability to put the ball in the net. Picking up the ball with his back about 35 yards from goal, Wright-Phillips spins out and runs at the heart of the defense before launching a rocket that left the Olimpia keeper stranded. Number 99 is picking up where he left off.
As for Robles, the new Captain of the club came up big as usual. Knowing that Olimpia were going to be dangerous on the counter, he had to stand tall and that’s just what he did. One-on-one against Michaell Chirinos, Robles stonewalled him from point-blank range, an away goal there early in the first half would’ve dented Red Bulls’ hopes of moving onto the next round.
But as always, the two main figures stepped up to the plate when it mattered most.
2. Marc Rzatkowski and Tyler Adams are a fine midfield combo
Does this mean Felipe is gone? Who knows, but that doesn’t take away from how brilliant Rzatkowski and Adams were in the center of the pitch. Particularly the German, who was signed on loan from sister club Red Bull Salzberg, was very impressive.
The 27-year-old ran his socks off, closing down space in the press, running up field with the ball in order to create chances, and even putting in a tackle or two. Rzatkowski can practically do it all, and has the experience and know-how to deal with what’s coming at him.
The experience of Rzatkowski blends well with the youth and skill of the 19-year-old Adams. Adams, in his own right, played very well and the pair complimented each other’s skill sets. Expect this midfield pairing more often.
3. 4-2-3-1 is the way to go
One of the questions leading up to this game was whether it was going to be the 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2. Once it was the former, the NY Red Bulls looked to make the most of it.
And they sure did, they were able to press extremely well, most of their chances came from the wings and they moved the ball smoothly. Tactically, everyone was in sync with their roles and when the lead was secure, Marsch was able so use his substitutes and switch to a 5-4-1 defensive formation.
Now that the season is well an truly underway, 4-2-3-1 will be the formation this year. With a back four of Murillo, Long, Collin and Lawrence – midfield of Rzatkowski and Adams – Sean Davis or Kaku in the whole with Royer and Muyl/Rivas on the wings and Wright-Phillips/Etienne Jr. leading the line. Top to bottom it’s as good a lineup as it gets in MLS. You wonder how they would’ve fared last season with this formation.
4. Alex Muyl shows why New York got Kaku
You’ve got to give it to Muyl, the guy works hard and has become a favorite of Marsch. However, he fluffed his lines more than once in the second leg, it was a frustrating first half from the 22-year-old.
Had he converted any of his chances, the tie would done and dusted within the first 45. But ultimately, he cut a frustrated figure and was subbed off in the second half, upset he didn’t score. Muyl’s consistency or inconsistency will be something to look out for this season.
The man he was subbed off for? The Red Bulls’ newest number 10, Kaku, who received a wonderful ovation. He had a decent cameo, looking to beat players with his dribbling and link up play with his teammates. He’s off to a winning start, and he’ll look to compete for his place and show why he’s worth the wait.
Both Muyl and Kaku will be important for the Red Bulls this season, but should one fail, the other will be there waiting to take over.
5. New York will have to step up their game against Club Tijuana
Let’s not kid ourselves here, CD Olimpia are no Club Tijuana.
The NY Red Bulls will have their work cut out for them next Tuesday in Mexico. The Quarterfinals of any tournament have been hailed as the best knockout round – and with Toronto vs Tigres and Seattle vs Chivas – New York vs Tijuana could be the best of the bunch.
The Mexican outfit sit 10th in the Clausura, but have conceded 5 goals in 9 games thus far. They have some very good players in their team: Juan Iturbe, leading goal-scorer Gustavo Bou, former LA Galaxy midfielder Juninho and Pablo Aguilar. They made the quarters beating CD Motagua 2-1 on aggregate, and now host one of the top clubs in MLS.
It’ll be fascinating to see how it plays out.