The New York Red Bulls finally broke out of their winless streak, using a back to basics approach against expansion FC Cincinnati.
Playing a more cynical brand of soccer, the Red Bulls minimized their mistakes and played the ball through the midfield more effectively. Despite still struggling to create high probability chances, they did enough to win on the night, earning their first shutout of the season by a score of 1-0.
The Red Bulls changed up the formation to start the match, opting for 5-1-3-1. Brian White started in place of the injured Bradley Wright-Phillips. Alex Muyl returned to the lineup as the right wing back, and Connor Lade started on the left. Amro Tarek came in as the third center back, partnered with Aaron Long, and Tim Parker.
The change in tactical setup mirrored a similar move made by Jesse Marsch in 2017 during the team’s US Open Cup run. The addition of another center back added cover to the attacking wing back position, and helped shore up a leaky defense. Whether Armas turned to the formation to fix similar issues, or as a means to cover missing personnel remains to be seen.
The Red Bulls opened the scoring the 38th minute. Brian White knocked down a cross to Daniel Royer. Royer used a back heel pass to get the ball to Lade. The wingback struck the ball ferociously, giving the Red Bulls the lead. The Red Bulls had only scored the first goal in one other match in 2019 so far, at Columbus to open the season.
In the 65th minute, FCC substitute Darren Mattocks nearly tied the match. After beating the backline, Mattocks rounded Luis Robles and fired a shot at the open net. His shot struck the post and bounced away. Five minutes later, Lamah struck the post after a Michael Murillo defensive error.
Once more in stoppage time, FCC had a chance to tie it, but their free header on goal struck the crossbar.
The Red Bulls improve to 2-4-2 on the year with the victory. Next up, the Red Bulls face a much tougher test against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography