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Going For The Win: Red Bulls Show Intent in Texas

Josh Hargett has a look at what the stats reveal about RBNY's game-plan and intentions in Dallas...

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas got together this past Friday night in Frisco, many viewers expected offensive fireworks from two of MLS’s top-five attacking teams. What we got was a 0-0 draw. However, this was far from a boring scoreless draw.

What kept this game from being boring was the free-flowing, attacking nature of both teams. While it was to be expected that FC Dallas, MLS’s top-scoring team, would aim to take the game to their guests, it was mildly surprising to see RBNY attack FCD with equal ferocity.

Jesse Marsch’s attacking high-press has been a constant strategy in New York’s games this season (only being modified last week versus NYCFC after going down to 10 men). If there was ever going to be a game where Marsch would have RBNY ease its foot off the gas it would be this one; a match-up on the road against the league’s most-dangerous team.

Marsch’s men would have none of it.

Falling right in line with this season’s pattern, the Red Bulls easily won the possession battle (59.9%-40.1%) and controlled the ball for long stretches throughout the game. The Red Bulls completed more passes (449-294) than their hosts and for a greater completion percentage (76%-64%).

(source: mlssoccer.com)

There are times when road teams have the lion’s share of possession. Those teams may attempt and complete more passes than the home team, but often those passes occur in their own half, rarely threatening their opponents. However, NY repeatedly took the ball into Dallas’ half connecting on 299 passes at a 64% success rate clip as FCD managed to complete 212 passes at a 54% clip in RBNY’s end of the field.

(source: mlssoccer.com)

While FC Dallas was extremely dangerous going forward, culminating in Felipe’s Save of The Year-worthy clearance in the 72nd minute, RBNY outshot Dallas 14-13 as both teams registered three shots on target a piece.

FC Dallas had the most spectacular goal-scoring chances, highlighted by the aforementioned goal-line clearance and Fabian Castillo’s effort just over the bar in the 76th minute, the Opta xG map shows that RBNY had more than their share of dangerous chances.

Even in the later stages of the game, when most road teams would close-up shop and play for the point, RBNY pressed forward. In the 83rd minute Sacha Kljestan closed down quickly on Victor Ulloa, stripping the Dallas midfielder and sparking a counter attack with Bradley Wright-Phillips. Although, BWP’s return pass to the onrushing Kljestan was ultimately cut out by FCD defender Walker Zimmerman, RBNY’s intend was clear. They were always going for the win.

With nearly a third of the regular season completed, RBNY’s head coach has given his men a clear edict: be the aggressors and attack. No opponent, nor location, has been a detriment to the Red Bulls' desire to control the game once they hit the field. On this night in Texas, the Red Bulls showed that they will go into every game with a single goal: the full three points.