On a weekend where both Atlanta United and NYCFC dropped points, a win at home against LAFC was imperative. LAFC proved to be no push-over though as both teams battled in the first half exchanging chance after chance. It was the Red Bulls who scored first, a fortuitous bounce gave Daniel Royer an easy tap-in in the 39th minute.
Second half adjustments limit Carlos Vela
Going into the locker room up 1-0 vs LAFC is a scoreline Armas and the team might have gladly taken. But defensively the first half wasn’t perfect in anyway. LAFC’s Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing took up very wide positions nearly hugging the sidelines while Carlos Vela threaded them diagonal balls. Those passes consistently tested Michael Murillo and Kemar Lawrence and even forced Luis Robles to come off his line and make three clearances.
“Yeah, he’s a world-class player,” said Chris Armas in the post game press conference. “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.
Limiting Vela’s space and time on ball
The Red Bulls couldn’t stop Vela on LAFC’s only goal of the game, the Mexican international cut inside and squeezed a ball through a tight window for Rossi who finished the chance. From that moment on, the Red Bulls flipped a switch.
— LAFC (@LAFC) August 5, 2018
For the remainder of the second half Vela hardly threatened New York as the press started to overwhelm his main supply lines, Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nguyen. Lee Nguyen’s successful passes shot down drastically from the first to second half, 27 to 12. Benny Feilhaber subbed out in the 59th minute, likely ahead of LAFC’s Open Cup fixture this week but nonetheless the midfielder completed just 2 of his 6 passes in the second half.
According to Chris Armas, the blind spots and spaces Vela found in the first half were found and covered collectively by the whole team.
“So is it that the center backs have to be connected?” said Armas. “Or is it that Tyler and Sean have to move into the game a little bit more? or is it the outside back’s job all of a sudden, or other times, it’s Danny and Marc really compressing. So we just have to outnumber them on these areas, so if he’s on the ball, quickly we can take time and space away, because you see with time and space, good players can hurt you, and for the most part, we I think did a pretty good job, and he had one really good look in the second half.”
Under Chris Armas, second halves are becoming a consistent strong point for the New York Red Bulls and once again that was on display in the handling of a World Cup star like Carlos Vela.
Carlos Vela's first half vs his second half. Completely neutralized by the Red Bulls. pic.twitter.com/z9u4ZGR4wC
— Liam Pettit (@liampettit__) August 6, 2018
In the 80th minute, the Red Bulls took the lead once again from Daniel Royer who poked in a pass from Bradley Wright-Phillips. With that win, the Red Bulls now move into second place in the Eastern Conference and Supporters Shield standings. Up next, the Red Bulls travel to Chicago to take on the Fire who have lost their past six matches in MLS play.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography