Hot and humid summer games at Red Bull Arena seem as customary as a strong second half under Chris Armas. Or based on Sunday’s attire as common as Armas and Bob Bradley shopping at the same clothing store. As for New York Red Bulls winning against top teams? Also prevalent this year, and in front of a crowd of 20,402 on Sunday they did it again.
Red Bulls show a common theme in win
RBNY head coach Chris Armas made a change and went back to starting with the 4-3-2-1 formation in this game as opposed to the 5-1-3-1 formation he used against the Columbus Crew last weekend. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kaku returned the starting lineup after starting on the bench last weekend.
From the start this game felt like an important one. BWP had an early chance blocked, while Diego Rossi caused problems for Los Angeles FC. LAFC tried to stretch the RBNY backline with their speed with balls over the top that Luis Robles had to come out and deal with.
“Luis being off his line and connected is really important,” RBNY head coach Chris Armas said in a post game interview. “So knowing that, and we know LAFC; that they lead the league, if not second, they either lead the league or balls behind, runs behind, slashing runs. So them knowing how we play, us knowing how they play, it had to be there.”
“I thought as the game went on, Luis got better and better at that. There was one scary moment in the second half that he’s out there but I’ll tell you, we told him to be aggressive. When in doubt, be aggressive, Luis, and it’s not always easy for a goalkeeper to be in that uncharted territory but he did a great job.”
LAFC had their chances as Rossi missed a golden opportunity when he shot wide after a miscommunication in RBNY’s defense. The forward would have a shot hit the post from outside the box moments later as well.
Despite backing off their high press and lacking possession, Tyler Adams and Sean Davis helped control the game for RBNY and kept LAFC in check. The visitors began to tire late in the first half and the breakthrough came from RBNY. Kaku played a diagonal ball to Michael Murillo. Murillo’s cross deflected off LAFC keeper Tyler Miller to Daniel Royer who gave the hosts the lead into halftime. RBNY had held one of the best first half teams without a goal at the half.
“When you look at them statistically, the first half they score a bulk of their goals. They’re a dangerous team, they’ve got some amazing players and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them represent the Western Conference in the final,” RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles said it a post game interview. “There’s a lot over the top; we know that they lead the league when it comes to through balls so that’s something we had to be mindful of.”
Armas and Bradley each made adjustments at halftime, as RBNY began to press more than they had in the first half, while Bradley moved Rossi onto the left hand side. Although RBNY had come out the aggressors in the second half it was Bradley’s adjustment that paid dividend. Carlos Vela who had been quiet much of the night was able to find Rossi in behind Murillo and the game was tied.
“He’s (Vela) a world-class player,” Armas said in a post game interview. “We’ve gotten to see it time and time again. So these guys are difficult because they stay in blinds spots. They find spaces. They pop up where you’re not, and it’s just a feel for the game that players like him have, so it’s not really a one-man job. We can see that, you know, at half time we talked about it and even looked at some of the clips where he’s just finding space. It’s just difficult.”
After the goal it was Armas’ turn to make an adjustment as he sent on Alex Muyl for Davis and moved Marc Rzatkowski into his spot. The decision was similar to last week against the Columbus Crew and much like last week it worked in his favor. Muyl and Murillo caused problems down the right hand side and worked well to contain Rossi. Rzatkowski and Adams worked to wear down LAFC’s midfield.
“We were working really hard and especially on a hot summer day like today it’s really tough and we were just going after it.,” RBNY forward Daniel Royer said in a post game interview. “Even when we conceded the goal we didn’t give up and we just continued, we just went for it and that’s the reason why we created more chances, that’s the reason why we won.”
With 20 minutes to go RBNY began to take over like they had near the end of the first half and once again they produced a goal. Rzatkowski played a ball over the top to BWP who played in Royer to tap into an empty net.
“The second goal was set up really nice.,” Royer said in a post game interview. “Great pass from Marc I think to Brad. As I already mentioned, not every striker passes the ball and he’s (BWP) just incredible. He could’ve tried to shoot himself.”
After the goal LAFC had no way back, their passes weren’t connecting, they had tired legs and RBNY’s midfield had worn them down over the course of the game.
I think lots of times, it (the match) is won in that midfield area,” Armas said in a post game interview. “Coming into the game, we thought the big challenge, we had to deal with six dynamic attackers that can hurt you in so many different ways, and then can we take advantage of our opportunities the other way because we knew we’d be able to create some.”
After last week’s showing where he was out coached, Armas made up for it by holding his guys back for a second half push which has become what this team is all about under him.
“Winning at home — it’s a must,” Armas said. “You have to win at home, and the guys, they get the credit because they dig deep themselves, they used the energy of each other; the fans start chanting, and you can feel it coming. It could have went the other way but our guys hung in there and they pushed. I think we saw belief that if we can keep putting out fires on one end; that both teams are tired and we created a few chances. How important is that win, that win at home, we just came off a tough loss at home where, in the second half, the guys showed a lot of fight and courage.”
Photo by John Perdicaro