The team sheet on Saturday read different than previous lineups seen this season under Jesse Marsch.

Armas experiments pay off in win

With a lineup comprised of central players like Rzatkowski, Adams, Davis and Kaku, it seemed like Rzatkowski would play out wide.Yet when the team lined up before the opening whistle, it was instead Tyler Adams playing right attacking midfielder. It was one change in the starting XI, a bold one at that, but a type of tactical flexibility that could become common under Armas’ tenure.

Adams vs Dielna

The decision to play Tyler in a more advanced role proved to be an excellent move by Armas. Not only did the lineup get Rzatkowski on the field, but it placed Adams in a position to frustrate an out-of-form Claude Dielna. Adams’ pressure also allowed Michael Murillo to push farther forward, the Panamanian full back finished with 2 shots and 3 successful dribbles around the 18 yard box.

When asked about the decision to play Adams higher up the field, Armas spoke on finding ways to get everyone going,

Tyler is incredible, he does whatever we ask, he does whatever the team needs, he’s a guy that plays for the team, runs for the team and gives everything so you start to think about how to get certain guys on the field, Marc we want to ride his momentum and really get him going, and how to piece him together with Sean and Tyler, so it was a way we can get him going and still tilt him in a way where he’s not a winger where he’s tucked in a bit so I thought he did great with and without the ball, up the field and we moved him inside and he did great there, He’s a gem.

Armas’ Experimentation

Another interesting tactical decision from Armas came after the substitution of Kaku for Derrick Etienne Jr in the 83rd minute. The substitution under Marsch might have seen Adams drop back into the double pivot alongside Davis, and Rzatkowski pushed up as the central attacking midfielder. Instead, Adams finished the game playing as the team’s #10, another new position for Adams. Despite the change in position, Adams relished the chance to play the role given to him by Armas,

I’ve been versatile, played a bunch of positions, this one was more different than anything though, obviously asking me to attack a bit more, find certain runs I’m not always used to but you get used to it, coach asks you to play a position you go out there and you do what the game gives you and on the day I did exactly what I had to do.

While the system remains the same, the arrangement and flexibility of the personnel appears expanded under Armas. Marc Rzatkowski echoed that same sentiment,

I think every coach has his own philosophy and also Chris has his own one and yeah we played a really good game with Sean, Tyler and me, a little bit balanced, I can say I was more defensive but yeah it was my job and I try to do what the coach wants me.

Under Chris Armas, the Red Bulls won two games late with players appearing in different roles. Moving forward these trials provide lessons for the new head coach on what works and what doesn’t.

On Wednesday, the Red Bulls go on the road against last place D.C United in their first meeting at the newly built Audi Field.

Photo by Bill Twomey Photography

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