The New York Red Bulls are one win away from a Supporter's Shield. Nonetheless, the ideal starting lineup can still be debated, but there should be no denying Dax McCarty, Damien Perrinelle and Matt Miazga are hugely important to the Red Bulls' success this year.
RBNY has played 33 league games in 2015. Sixteen games have been played when all three players are in the starting lineup and 17 games have been played when at least one has been missing for various reasons (international duty, yellow card accumulation, red card, injury, etc.).
MLSsoccer.com's Armchair Analyst coined a stat back on July 20th. At the time, it read:
When Miazga and Damien Perrinelle start in central defense with McCarty in front of them at d-mid, the Red Bulls are a trophy-worthy 7-0-3. In all other games they are "kill it with fire!"-worthy 1-6-2.
Three months have passed since that quote and I've kept track since then to see if this would hold up for the rest of the season.
With one game left, the stat remains impressive. The Red Bulls are indeed "trophy-worthy" at 11-2-3 (W-L-T) when all three are in the lineup (36 points, or 2.25 points per game - good for more than 76 points if sustained for a full season). They have scored more points in those 16 games than the Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids have accumulated to date this season, and only one less than New York City FC.
However, the story changes when at least one of the trio is missing. In THOSE 17 games, they are 6-8-3: 21 points, or 1.23 points per game, which puts them roughly around the same level as Real Salt Lake (41 points from 33 games; ninth in the Western Conference) is at the moment.
Jesse Marsch wants to go after the Shield, and then the Cup. The three players he will want at the core of his defensive schemes should be obvious.