When the New York Red Bulls began the 2020 season against FC Cincinnati at Red Bull Arena, they played a strong first half and held the result against a side that was in disarray. Manager Ron Jans had been dismissed by the club just days earlier following complaints from players over racist language in the locker room.
This Cincinnati team had looked lost and clueless at times, including a loss to their Ohio neighbors in the Columbus Crew that has looked strong, and dangerous so far in this MLS is Back tournament.
But now with a new Cincinnati head coach in legendary former Manchester United and Dutch national team defender Jaap Stam, it could be a hard game for the Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
“I can see them committed to their defensive origination, to their defensive shape.” said Chris Armas, “Whether it’s a 4-3-3 or even in the 5-3-2, they can sit deeper and being an organized block On the other side of it, they can build it out from the back by using possession.
“Using the goalkeeper to build from the back to control the game and using this tool to control the games. When we first played against them earlier they played direct, but now we are expecting them to continue that, but our pressing is something we could counter that.”
With changes to the backline this season, the Red Bulls are trying to get back to playing solid defense in the league. Both Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo currently at Anderlecht in Belgium, we have new faces as Jason Pendant and Kyle Duncan as the fullbacks, while Amro Tarek has paired up with Aaron Long at center back.
“I think our goal is to get back to being a tough nosed defense. We need to be communicating with everyone.” said Aaron Long, “Amro is left footed, and I’m right footed. so this is the first time I’m playing on the right side on the backline, because I’ve played on the left for o long.
“Our goals is to get back to where we were two years ago, first and foremost I didn’t play in the first two games of the season, but now we want to be the lowest goals allowed in the league, more shutouts and with these new pieces, we are a little bit younger, but we believe we can do it.”
As Chris Armas changed the formation from the traditional 4-2-3-1, he has put Daniel Royer into a higher position to attack and looking more dangerous than before.
“I think Danny looks really comfortable. Just look what he did against Atlanta in the first game. He knows when to arrive and his best actions are inside the 18. He understands space, he operates well on the back line.”
“He makes good movements in the box, his hold up play is clean. He’s not so difficult to get on the same page with, when you are playing two strikers. He understands the backline and the pressing. He’s also counter pressing and putting in the time to get into position to attack.”
So for the Red Bulls, any result would solidify their position for second place in Group E. If they can play their style against an FC Cincinnati side that hasn’t had positive play for a long time. It will be a difficult match, but as always the Red Bulls have the ability to make it through.