Gerhard Struber expressed confidence in the abilities of his New York Red Bulls team after the final transfer pieces were added this week but also reminded observers of the improvements the new arrivals and the team must make ahead of Sunday’s road game against Los Angeles Galaxy.
“I think we’re ready to make next steps in the most important ways, in our principles,” the Austrian head coach said to the New York press corps on Friday afternoon after expressing pleasure with the performance if not the final score against Sporting Kansas City last weekend. “We have to find the right determination in the final third, and come with the right mentality and the right principles against a massive opponent in LA Galaxy.”
Struber commented on the arrivals of not only transfer signings Frankie Amaya and Patryk Klimala but also the availability of last year’s designated player signing Dru Yearwood, sidelined through an undisclosed ailment in recent weeks. Though excited by the possibility of deploying Yearwood, Struber stated the midfielder had missed much of the late preseason and would “need 2-3 games” to be able to complete a full 90 minutes.
Struber marked Yearwood as more of a deep or shuttling midfielder in his diamond system, but as remarked by veteran playmaker Florian Valot at Friday’s presser, the versatility of all the team’s midfielders is an asset that has been emphasized by Struber. “(Gerhard) has been rotating a lot of players in midfield...I’ve trained in every position in the diamond - the 10, both the 8s, the 6.”
This versatility was remarked upon by Struber when discussing Frankie Amaya, the recent first overall SuperDraft pick signed Tuesday from FC Cincinnati. “We can be flexible with him in our style of play, with his ability to close spaces and make good tactical decisions. It will be learning in this system how to work against the ball defensively where he will have to improve. But he is a hungry and highly-motivated boy.”
As for the team’s other marquee transfer signing this week, Patryk Klimala appears less likely to feature against LA and possibly for several weeks as visa and quarantine logistics are sorted. However Struber expressed excitement as the Polish youth international’s qualities, highlighting his “timing of forward runs” and finishing skills as crucial for the team. “We just hope for a quick visa process so he can join with the team. There are (areas of his game) that we have to improve but he is still young.”
The final note struck by current incumbent striker Brian White was a window into the mentality of the team heading into Sunday’s match. “Obviously match fitness is a little behind after we had to cancel the preseason games, but that’s no excuse. We have to make sure we improve over 90 minutes, improve in the final third.”
Gerhard Struber is still a long way from the hot seat with the Red Bulls and any cross-country road game is a difficult proposition, but another loss would put him at an unsavory 0-3 in his young Red Bulls tenure. Though this team with so many new faces certainly needs time to gel, it should also be a team capable of winning now, and Struber will hope to prove so on Sunday afternoon in Carson.