With more than a third of the season gone, the New York Red Bulls are still a team in flux. Inconsistency presents itself in the lineup and the performances alike.
Despite halting a three-game losing streak, Jesse Marsch and the Red Bulls know they have a long way to go as they prepare for this weekend’s match against New England Revolution.
After the loss to LA Galaxy on Mother’s Day, the Red Bulls have been searching for ways to shake things up.
“We’ve been just trying to evaluate how to vary some of the things we are doing, keep the environment fresh, and keep everyone locked in,” Jesse Marsch told reporters on Tuesday. “We decided to do 11-v-11 today and work on some tactical things. That’s the key, to up the competitive level every day. The more that we can count on the mentality and competitiveness, the more we can work on the tactical details. It’s a balancing act.”
New England will be a good test for the Red Bulls. The Revolution have only lost twice since March 25th, and have only been shut out once in their last five games.
Mixed results from new formation
Felipe Martins’ time with the Red Bulls has seen the midfielder paired up with a number of partners. Each lineup paired Felipe with another player to share the defensive responsibilities. Friday night’s draw with Toronto FC was different.
The Red Bulls opted for a more attack minded approach, employing a 4-1-3-2, with Felipe as the lone defensive midfielder. While the attack did not produce as expected, the Red Bulls defense player their best half in weeks stifling a potent Toronto attack.
Felipe played the match as an extension of the backline, something former captain Dax McCarty did regularly.
At training Monday, Felipe made his role clear. “I just had to stay more central and cover their guys who come in the middle, Ricketts and Altidore. They have Delgado and Valdez that would push and stick us sometimes as three of four guys there. I just had to protect the defense…we didn’t allow them to have a big chance in the first half.”
Even with the added defensive benefits, it is not clear if Jesse Marsch will stick with the new lineup. The Red Bulls coach eschewed the lineup after halftime, and expressed concern with leaving a single defensive midfielder with so much responsibility.
“In some ways, I thought it was good, but other ways, it exposed us through the midfield,” said Jesse Marsch, “We weren’t quite able to cover the gaps and I was worried about Felipe’s ability to cover that whole space in front of the back four.”
Tyler Adams at the Under-20 World Cup
While the Red Bulls prepare to take on the New England Revolution Saturday, Tyler Adams will be preparing for his final group stage game at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
The homegrown product is a mainstay in the U.S. Under-20 lineup despite being one of the youngest players on the team, and he will be eligible to return to the competition in 2019.
The young midfielder has built an impressive resume over the last three years. He signed his first professional contract for New York Red Bulls II as the team’s first player in 2015. Since then, he won the double for the USL team last year, capturing both the regular season and playoff trophies, and became a key player for the senior team since week 6.
The U.S. tied Ecuador, 3-3, in their World Cup opener, and Adams turned in a strong performance in a box-to-box midfield role. Normally a defensive midfielder for the Red Bulls, Adams was deployed further up the field for the U.S. Under-20 team and helped contribute to the passing sequence leading to the second U.S. goal in the draw against Ecuador.
Adams and the Americans next face Senegal on Thursday (7 a.m., Fox Sports 1) before finishing group play on Sunday against Saudi Arabia (5 a.m., Fox Sports 1).
Searching for defensive help
The summer transfer window is nearly open, and the Red Bulls will look to take advantage. They have suffered major setbacks along the backline this season, with injuries forcing three of their five available centerbacks out for stretches.
Gideon Baah is out for the season. Aurelien Collin remains day to day. Collin looked to be close to returning this weekend, but suffered a set back that has changed that timeline after he “felt something” in practice. Hassan N’Dam is not ready for first-team minutes. That leaves just Damien Perrinelle and Aaron Long healthy and available as options in central defense.
Even with a large amount of money invested in the backline, the Red Bulls are ready to add a centerback in the next transfer window. Sources tell SBI there are up to three targets identified, though the identities remain unknown.
Aside from the need to add experience and depth to the squad, the Red Bulls will be hoping to find answers in the next acquisition for their inconsistent backline. The Red Bulls have surrendered 19 goals through 13 games this year.