After losing 1-0 last week, the Red Bulls were shut out again by the same scoreline to the Chicago Fire. Four games into the season, 3 of which against 2018’s weakest, the Red Bulls have strung together repeated unimpressive performances.
Against Chicago, The Red Bulls put just one shot on goal and lacked ideas and cohesion on the ball. Chris Armas spoke to the ineffectiveness post-game, “The goals…I know we are going to score goals. It’s more some of the performances from us, and that’s got to get better. Again, when we stick to who we are, it looks very different. There are no real concerns right now”.
It would be dramatic to think the Red Bulls need to make sweeping changes, but at the moment the Red Bulls’ offense looks impotent. The Red Bulls are no strangers to starting slow, but there is reason for concern.
Kaku’s struggles continue
Kaku was dropped against San Jose due to a “minor internal issue”, and from the outside the drama still seems to linger. Kaku looked messy in transition against Chicago and often looked to get the ball off his feet too quick.
It’s difficult to always diagnose, but from Marsch to Armas there’s been a definite change in Kaku’s usage. Armas is keen on Kaku creating from wider positions, using his passing ability to make plays like he did in both goals scored vs. Santos Laguna. But, that’s kept him from influencing the game at the top of the box.
SBI Soccer’s Franco Panizo asked Kaku about this change last September and he responded, “He asks me that when the ball is out wide to try and get close because if I’m in the middle I’m too far….He wants me to not always stay in the middle because if the whole team is pressing or playing with the ball in those areas and I’m (in the center), then it doesn’t help us much”.
Bradley Wright-Phillips off to a slow start
Bradley Wright-Phillips has recorded just two shots on goal in three MLS games this year. In both legs vs. Santos Laguna, Wright-Phillips looked a step too slow and missed a massive chance to help New York advance.
The slump hasn’t just been recent, Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored once or multiple times just three times since late August 2018. It’s fair to say Kaku’s drop in form has played a part but Wright-Phillips just hasn’t looked the same at times.
Questions have been asked of Wright-Phillips before and he’s answered them nearly every time. Strikers go through slumps, it’s normal. Yet, age catches up with everyone and over the coming months that is truly going to be put to the test.
A look ahead
Yes, there’s blame to go around, it’s not just Kaku and Wright-Phillips. The loss of Tyler Adams is proving to be just as big as everyone thought. Florian Valot’s health has once again brought about questions of offensive contributions from the wings and a lack of versatility. The good news is that this is more or less the same team that accumulated the most points in MLS regular season history. It’s up to Chris Armas now to decide whether to tinker and make adjustments or just ride it out.
At home, The Red Bulls will have a great chance to mend their offensive struggles against Minnesota who conceded a whopping 71 times last year.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography