Following continued middling results and declining performance, Chris Armas was dismissed as New York Red Bulls manager Friday after a little over two years in charge. With how starved of positive moments this year has been in and outside of soccer, it would be easy to forgive Red Bulls fans for forgetting the more joyful moments from the earlier parts of Armas’ tenure. We took a look back at some of those moments as well as one more recent victory:
5. Red Bulls 3-2 LA Galaxy (May 4th, 2019)
With the Zlatan Show coming to town, all the eyes of a national TV audience were on Arms and the Red Bulls as they looked to defend their home turf against a Galaxy side that had just lost once in nine matches leading up to their clash in Harrison. Armas and the team rose to the occasion, rallying back from 2-1 down to win 3-2, behind goals from Amro Tarek, Marc Rzatkowski, and Derrick Etienne. In a total team effort, the Red Bulls looked at least momentarily like a side that could go toe-to-toe with any of the league’s top squads.
4. Red Bulls 1-0 Atlanta United (July 11th, 2020)
This result in the opening match of the MLS is Back tournament seemed to represent a new beginning for the Red Bulls. Against a team equally in tactical turmoil, Armas led out a side that looked confident, organized, and prepared. Out of the gates the Red Bulls pressed Atlanta hard and high under the hot Orlando night sky and eventually capitalized off a defensive mistake when Kaku found Florian Valot almost entirely alone and through on goal, a position from which the Frenchman would make no mistake in putting the Red Bulls ahead. Now with the lead in hand, Armas quickly marshalled the team into a deeper, less aggressive, and more organized block, absorbing and stopping Atlanta attacks as they came. There were some scares, but in the end the defense and result held, and it briefly seemed as if the club had perhaps turned a new page in 2020.
3. Red Bulls 2-0 Atlanta United (September 30th, 2018)
In the first 2018 throwback on this list, Armas ensured the race to the Shield would be one to remember with a commanding 2-0 home victory over the Red Bulls’ chief title contenders, Atlanta United. Armas managed this result despite not having two of his top players, midfield engine Tyler Adams and top scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, available for selection. In a staunch and prepared performance, Armas’ Red Bulls frustrated Tata Martino’s Atlanta side to the point that the handshake-that-never-was between the two coaches after the game, and the memes and jokes that immediately ensued, became a high water mark of the season in itself.
2. Red Bulls 3-0 Columbus Crew (Eastern Conference Semifinals - November 11th, 2018)
Coming off a disappointing 1-0 away loss to the Crew in the first leg of the semi-finals, Armas helped orchestrate a masterful performance a week later as the club surged onward to the conference finals with a dominant 3-0 victory. A fully-packed South Ward watched as the Red Bulls unleashed a rout worthy of a the regular season record breakers. After Aaron Long brought the aggregate series level in the first half, Daniel Royer netted a quick brace (with the first of his two goals being a product of homegrown New York natives Alex Muyl and Tyler Adams) to send Harrison into hysteria.
1. Red Bulls 1-0 Orlando City (October 28th, 2018)
It’s hard to make an argument against this topping of the list of victories during Armas’ tenure at the helm. This season ending victory over Orlando City, in front of a raucous, near-capacity Red Bull Arena was a high water mark for multiple reasons. Not only did the win secure the club’s third regular season championship, as the three points pushed the Red Bulls ahead of rivals Atlanta United in the standings (thanks Toronto!) but also ensured that the team would go down as the highest regular season point earners in MLS history. The third Shield put the club in some elite company, joining LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew, and DC United as the only team’s in the league’s history to win the regular season title three or more times.