In their second win on the season, the New York Red Bulls brought back some of the spark that fans have been awaiting. Lineup changes were necessary, with Bradley Wright-Phillips and Cristian Casseres, Jr. taking knocks in training during the week. But it was the return of Alex Muyl to the Starting XI that should make fans stop and take notice.
Muyl had to leave the April 6th match against Minnesota United after just 22 minutes. The ankle injury kept him out of the lineup in subsequent matches. The Red Bulls struggled, finally snapping a five-game winless streak against expansion team FC Cincinnati. While Muyl was credited with two shots and one chance created, his work off the ball cannot be understated. Opta Sports tallied 85 touches for Muyl, the highest of any RBNY player on the night. Considering the Red Bulls only had 45.8% possession overall, this is no small feat.
“You know, he’s not just a guy that fights and runs around. He does a lot more than that.” This endorsement from manager Chris Armas echoes similar sentiment from previous skipper Jesse Marsch. The club has shown time and again they believe in the Manhattan homegrown. They see continued growth in the 23-year-old. There is a sense that the best is still ahead.
As for Muyl himself, he seems to see his role as a sort of journeyman for the benefit of the team. “I think ultimately, I’ll play anywhere. Doesn’t matter to me,” he said when asked about going into a wingback position. In a roster heavy with midfielders, such flexibility is beneficial to both player and team.
Muyl’s physicality sometimes comes at a price: he was booked in the 56th minute for a foul on the FC Cincinnati goalkeeper. He has also taken quite a few hits in his pursuit of the ball. “I’m a player, I get involved in things, I invite contact sometimes… so be it.” A true team player, Muyl has plenty to offer going forward.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography