The New York Red Bulls are desperate for change. They are winless in their last five and have not kept a clean sheet since February 27th against CA Pantoja. With rumors swirling about coaching changes and lack of discipline on the field, the Red Bulls simply need to start by winning a game.
They had a golden chance to get an away win last week against a lackluster Revolution side, but an uncharacteristic mistake by Luis Robles led to their demise. A 1-0 loss in New England further frustrated Red Bull supporters, who were hopeful for at least a point in Gillette.
If last weeks opponent did not give the Red Bulls a good enough chance of winning, then maybe FC Cincinnati can. The newly added expansion side worked wonders in years past, playing attractive football in the USL. Unfortunately, that is not translating well to MLS play.
Cincinnati is in 9th in the east, winning just two games so far this season. They have had just as much trouble keeping the ball out of their net, letting up 13 goals in eight matches.
The few positive early season results were a mere formality as the team has showed its true colors in the past few weeks. A recent 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake took a toll on the team as Albert Rusnak’s brace led his team to victory.
MLS veterans Nick Hagglund and Kendall Waston are the leaders in defense, but neither can be the rock at the back that the team needs. Besides Waston scoring the teams first home MLS goal against Portland, both him and Hagglund have been subpar at best.
This is great news for a Red Bulls team that has scored just three goals in their last five matches. Unable to find the net against the Revs, Chicago Fire and Orlando City, the Red Bulls offense is no where near the level it was at last season.
Bradley Wright-Phillips continues to struggle as the Red Bulls have, for some strange reason, started hoofing hopeless long balls up to the 34 year old. BWP has never really been blessed with a great amount of pace, so this is anything but a good philosophy for the team to build around.
Daniel Royer is tied with a team lead two goals this season, but his inconsistent play is coupled with BWP’s serious dip in form. Royer did score against Sporting KC two weeks ago, but was ineffective against the Revs.
One hopeful return to the attacking lineup is scapegoat Alex Muyl. The versatile right sided youngster also has two goals on the season and has been a bright spot in the teams dull season. An injury kept him out against New England, but Armas hopes that Muyl has had enough time to recover from his minor ankle injury.
Last match also saw Vincent Bezecourt start in the attacking midfield role in place of the suspended Kaku. Bezecourt was not exactly the most effective, creating just one chance and completing only 59% of his passes. The Red Bulls offense needs a bit more help than that, so it may be time for Sean Davis to get a more important role going forward.
Cristhian Casseres Jr. played alongside Davis in the defensive midfield roles against the Revs. With Marc Rzatkowski playing out wide, Armas may find that Davis and Bezecourt could switch roles. This would allow Davis to play in a more forward role, effecting play where the Red Bulls need the most help.
Rzatkowski could also drop into that role, allowing Alex Muyl, Andreas Ivan, or even Brian White to slot into the wide right role. There are many minor tweaks to be made overall, but the lineup changes at face value will be a refreshing take on the dormant offense.
The match against Cincinnati is the first of a three match home stretch. Starting off with a convincing win would do so much more for the team than just get them three points. It would set the tone for a huge match next week, as the club welcomes Zlatan and the Galaxy.
This is a match the Red Bulls should win. Cincinnati will likely bunker and force the Red Bulls to commit players forward, so Parker and Long need to be alert at the back when the team is pressing high in the opposition half. Scoring in the first half would be a welcome change for the Red Bulls, but any sort of positive offense would be enough to make supporters happy.