Last night, the New York Red Bulls took on Eastern Conference foes the Chicago Fire in a rather uneventful game: the teams combined for three total shots on target. Taking on the last place team in the conference at home, it was as close to a must-win game for the Red Bulls as they will have during the early portion of this season.
With the win the Red Bulls were able to gain a little bit of momentum heading into to their match against rivals New York City FC. Three quick thoughts on the mid-week win:
1. It doesn't have to be pretty
The Red Bulls had only one shot on target and still got the three points. While it may not be what fans want to see, at the end of the day winning is what is important. The Red Bulls struggled to create chances this week and it will be interesting to see if a healthy Gonzalo Veron will be able to add a creative spark to the team. Veron came on against the Fire for about 20 minutes and had almost no impact and was dispossessed various times. Still, despite having the worst goal differential in the league, if the playoffs began to today the Red Bulls would make the cut. RBNY is in a hole that can only be climbed out of with points - and there are no points for passing percentages, chance creation, or aesthetics (the goal was pretty, in fairness). Win is what the Red Bulls need to do, and win is what they did against the Fire.
2. Collin is settling nicely
After being picked apart last week by D.C. United, the makeshift pairing in the of Chris Duvall and Aurélien Collin in the heart of the Red Bulls defense got a second consecutive outing - and looked solid. Collin was tasked with marking the speedy Kennedy Igboananike and was able to contain him. Other than David Accam’s 30 yard strike that rattled Luis Robles’ crossbar, the Fire were not able to create dangerous chances. It will be interesting to see how Collin performs once partnered with a natural center back like Gideon Baah or Ronald Zubar, but he is settling in well so far.
3. Red Bull Arena a fortress?
Despite all of the hysteria about the team's slow start this season, the Red Bulls are now 4-2-0 at home. Until they can figure out how to get points on the road the team will need to keep winning at home if they want to make the playoffs. In front of a crowd of 16,624 the team was able to squeak out an ugly victory. This sort of game won't have fans cooing over RBNY's style, but if the Arena can be returned to being a reliable source of three points again, the Red Bulls will at least have a shot at offering their supporters post-season soccer in 2016.