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Balance returns to Red Bulls midfield through Cristian Casseres Jr.

The 19-year-old has provided just what was missing earlier in the year.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at FC Dallas
Casseres Jr. (right) celebrates a goal in a breakout performance at FC Dallas on May 11.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

When deciding the best 11 for the New York Red Bulls, the midfield used to be one of the easier to fill in, with Davis and Rzatkowski in behind Kaku. The wide players and forward could vary, but those three were nearly automatic in first team selection.

Rotation happened throughout the season as it would at any club, but Casseres Jr. stood above, with the 19-year-old Venezuelan showing off his tenacious work-rate combined with his strong center of gravity.

It was not until recently, though, that Armas put Casseres Jr. in the “destroyer” role in midfield. The Red Bulls’ two most recent wins saw Casseres Jr. play in that 6-role.

In the 2-0 win against Portland, where Casseres Jr. played alongside Davis for the full 90 minutes, the Venezuelan made three tackles and helped keep a clean sheet in a crucial away victory.

In the following 2-0 win against the Union, Casseres Jr. played 60 minutes with Davis and the remaining 30 minutes alongside Rzatkowski, following a substitution. He registered four tackles, six recoveries and created three chances, as he was a strong contender for man of the match.

The freedom Casseres Jr. gives both Davis and Rzatkowski going forward is the factor that solidifies this decision for Armas. Adding that extra man in attack is something the Red Bulls had been unable to do in multiple matches this season, and recent performances show just how impactful it can be.

To be completely clear, Casseres Jr. is not Tyler Adams, but Armas can hope that putting Casseres Jr. in that role continues to free up the attack similar to how it did with Adams.

With playoffs just a couple weeks away, the Red Bulls are coming together at just the right time. Armas has one more match to make any adjustments he sees fit, but Casseres Jr. should stay put where he is.