Absolute perfection. The Red Bulls took care of business last weekend against Atlanta United 2-0 as Chris Armas got his tactics spot on.
MLS fans around the world tuned in as the two best teams in the league faced off at Red Bull Arena. Whenever the two teams face off, the match is filled with controversy and passion.
This time was no different, as the Red Bulls had one penalty decision waved away in the first half due to VAR, followed by a clear and correct penalty decision given to them. Daniel Royer cooly slotted home 39 minutes into the first half, giving his team a deserved lead.
A couple of key saves from Luis Robles kept Atlanta off the board as the Red Bulls defense put in one of their best performances of the season. Tim Parker and company held the most dangerous man in the league, Josef Martinez, to zero shots during his entire 76 minute stint on the field.
Martinez is still yet to score against the Red Bulls in four meetings between the two clubs. He seemingly disappears every time the teams meet, which proves just how spot on the tactics have been from Marsch and Armas.
Now, the Red Bulls switch focus to the opposite end of the table as they take on the San Jose Earthquakes. The team, led by Mikael Stahre, has not won a match since August.
The Earthquakes have won only four matches the entire season, tallying just 20 points through 31 matches played. They are tied for the worst defense in MLS, allowing 66 goals.
Their last five games alone are a testament to how their season has gone. Zero points gained, 16 goals allowed and a crushing 5-1 defeat at home to Sporting Kansas City. The Earthquakes have not done much to prove they are changing this season, so the Red Bulls should feel good going into this one.
Avaya Stadium has not been kind to the Earthquakes this season, tilting this match even more in the favor of the Red Bulls. Stahre’s men have only won two matches at home, one of them being the first match of the season.
Despite their abysmal season, the Earthquakes do still pose a few threats offensively. MLS legend Chris Wondolowski is still bagging goals with nine on the season so far.
Georgian midfielder Valeri Kazaishvili has been the brightest spark offensively for the Quakes, scoring 10 and assisting four on the season. His play in the midfield has been a small glimmer of hope in an otherwise putrid season by the team.
With Bradley Wright-Phillips back in the team, the Red Bulls should look to shut this game down early. Luckily his absence in the Atlanta game was not felt as youngster Brian White ran his heart out for the entire 90 minutes.
With Tyler Adams out for this match due to a back injury, the Red Bulls will need Marc Rzatkowski to step up in his absence. The midfield will be a big area of emphasis for both teams as they attempt to get control of this match.
The Quakes will likely set up in a traditional 442 system. With the Red Bulls rolling out their favored 4231, the defensive midfielders will be looked at to win the ball back and start the counter. Royer and Wright-Phillips could see a serious boost in their goal tallies if this game goes the way it’s set up to.
This is a match that Armas needs to keep his men focused for. They have a nice lengthy break following the match against the Quakes, so leaving it all on the field is a must.
Atlanta is also still a point ahead of the Red Bulls in the standings, so every match is a must win for both teams. The Quakes cannot be taken lightly, and with the way the Red Bulls have been playing recently, they should have little issue picking up a convincing victory.