The New York Red Bulls lined up differently in their midweek match up with Real Salt Lake. Bradley Wright-Phillips came out as the starting left winger while Anatole Abang took over the lone striker role. Sean Davis filled in for Sacha Kljestan while Connor Lade spelled Chris Duvall at right back. The one thing that didn't change though, was the system, and it showed as this was a win you get when this team sticks to the high pressure system.
The Red Bulls came out flying and scored the matches only goal in the 4th minute. Bradley Wright-Phillip hit a near perfect pass into the path of Kemar Lawrence. Lawrence crossed the ball into the box where Sean Davis deflected it to a wide open Mike Grella, who slotted it away past a helpless Nick Rimando.
The Red Bulls caught a break in the red card department, with Javier Morales pulling down Felipe Martins (40th minute) for what was deemed a "tactical foul", but everyone thought was a denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. It was honestly a soft red but the Red Bulls had 50 minutes ahead of them up a man. In the second half, they got their second break as Demar Phillips went in hard on Lade (55th minute) and got a straight red himself. Again, it was an admittedly soft call as studs weren't showing and there was no scissor motion on the tackle.
However, despite being up 2 men for the final 35 minutes of the match, the Red Bulls could not put an attack together, because they were following their system. They did manage to maintain possession but was never much of a threat in the 18 yard box. When they were, they were usually offside on the final pass, killing the attack. Jesse Marsch finally decided to throw an extra attacker into the mix when he subbed in Manolo Sanchez for Lawrence late in the game, but it wasn't enough. They came close with a Grella header just going over the bar in stoppage time, but nothing else really troubled Rimando.
Playing BWP higher
In his halftime remarks, Jesse Marsch said the needed to make adjustments. One of them was getting Bradley Wright-Phillips farther up the field to help with the attack. This is great and all, but where was this attitude the first 14 games of the season when Wright-Phillips was struggling up top, yet being asked to play behind the midfield?
Additionally, Shep Messing said that long balls into Anatole Abang were working because he played high. Maybe if Wright-Phillips was where he should be, they would've worked for him too?
This kid has skills and should be in the Starting XI or first off the bench from now on. He has an adept touch and has a six sense about what pass needs to be made. Marsch would be smart to start Davis/Kljestan/Dax in the middle of a 4-5-1 against New York City FC. Felipe has issues with service (can someone else please take our free/corner kicks), plus with him playing in 3 straight matches, he should probably rest as well. The last time we scored off of a free kick was against Seattle, and that was with Wright-Phillips taking the kick. Davis has done enough to earn another start.
Mike Grella/Anatole Abang
Grella keeps doing enough to deserve to be in the Starting XI. However, with Abang showing well as forward, and BWP able to play Left Wing based on tonight's performance, Gella might have to make way for Abang as a regular starter. This also affects Zizzo as he's fighting to get his spot back. The two who rotated Left Wing to start the season may be looking at an extended spell of starting games on the bench.