The New York Red Bulls put the future of the team on display with a dominant performance against the Portland Timbers in their 2018 MLS season home opener.
With the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarter-Finals against Club Tijuana looming, Jesse Marsch made the bold choice to rest nine of his starters from last week’s upset victory in favor of testing the team’s depth and “Playing the Kids”.
The four players the team played who were signed this past winter - Kyle Duncan, Kaku, Ben Mines and Carlos Rivas - all justified the team’s faith in them. Kaku had an assist to Mines for the team’s opening goal, Duncan contributed to the shutout and Rivas notched a brace in the final 15 minutes en route to a 4-0 victory.
Here are the RBNY player ratings:
Luis Robles, 8.0 - Aside from one fingertip save in the second half to avoid giving up the lead, Robles went untested thanks to a brilliant effort from the defense.
Connor Lade, 8.5 - Lade was absolutely brilliant against reigning MLS MVP Diego Valeri, keeping the Timbers striker isolated and closing down all of his passing lanes. He also showed an impressive
Aurelien Collin, 7.0 - Collin looked pretty fast out there. And his otter-like headers were silly, but effective.
Fidel Escobar, 8.0 - A dominant performance by the defender many had written off after the signing of Tim Parker.
Kyle Duncan, 8.0 - As great as Ben Mines was, Duncan had a great debut as well.
Vincent Bezecourt, 8.0 - Now that we know that the Red Bulls have TWO players who can make effective corner kicks, is it time to badger Jesse Marsch as to why he let Sacha Kljestan take all of them last season?
Sean Davis, 8.0
Alejandro Romero Gamarra, 8.5 - It was nice to see Ben Mines and Kyle Duncan play great in their MLS debuts. But it was an absolute sign of relief to see Kaku play as well as advertised and pick up the first assist of the MLS season. He also showed a willingness to fight for the ball,
Ben Mines, 9.0 (aka 17 divided by 2!) (Man of the Match) - The team’s first goal was scored at exactly 17:17 in the debut for the 17-year-old wearing number 17, thanks to assists from No. 7 & No. 10 (7+10=17!) #Illu-Mines-Ati!
Carlos Rivas, 8.5 - Many people thought that the Red Bulls got fleeced in the Kljestan trade. But if Rivas played that well with the B-
Derrick Etienne Jr., 7.0 - While it’s hard to look past his struggles in the final third, his skill with the ball in open play is a thing of beauty.
HC Jesse Marsch, 8.0 - It’s pretty rare that a coach gets to play with house money and have his team perform even better than expected.
Bradley Wright-Phillips, 8.0 - The energy of the team changed almost immediately when BWP came on. He finished his 26-minute appearance with a goal and a secondary assist, giving him 4 goals and 2 assists through four games this year.
Tyler Adams, 7.0
Aaron Long, n/a
Now the team gets a short rest before “Tijuana Tuesday” and what could be perhaps the most important home game in team history.
The reserves played brilliantly, the starters got their rest, and the team has a 2-0 lead. After Saturday’s performance, there are no excuses for missing the CONCACAF Champions League Semi-Finals.