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Miami 0-4 Red Bulls: floodgates finally open in South Florida

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Klimala, Fernandez and Fabio brace give New York much-needed road win

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Inter Miami CF Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In a game the team wishes they could have played in July, the New York Red Bulls earned an emphatic 4-0 away win over Inter Miami on Friday night in Fort Lauderdale. Patryk Klimala opened the scoring for a dominant Red Bulls side who killed the game off with a goal from the lively Omir Fernandez followed by a second half brace for Fábio.

While Gerhard Struber again rolled out his new 4-2-3-1 formation (this time with Klimala and Fabio somewhat pivoting their moves forward) the story of the game was largely the ineptitude and disorder of a star-studded but woeful Miami side. Though possession stats were largely even, New York outshot their hosts 27-2 in a cathartic result that threatens to make fans forget the Red Bulls came in having won only one of their last eleven matches.

The inclusion of Fernandez in the starting lineup for the second game in a row was crucial as the Bronx-born academy product served as the mobile link between the forwards Struber had been missing in recent weeks. The started with immediate chances created through forward combination as Fábio nearly blasted in a ball Miami’s lackadaisical defense allowed to bounce in the box, before Patryk Klimala leaped up after being tripped during a breakaway and nearly scored if not for a goal line clearance by Miami’s Christian Makoun.

The breakthrough eventually came in the 18th minute as Klimala collected an inventive Wiki Carmona through ball to make an unassuming left-footed strike past Nick Marsman’s near post for his sixth goal of the season, putting New York up 1-0. The Red Bulls would continue to attack in waves against a Miami team that showed little interest in winning second balls or closing lanes, and in the 31st minute they got the killer goal Gerhard Struber has lamented a lack of in recent weeks.

Tom Edwards, finally able to attempt his famed long throw-ins from a fullback position, tossed in a ball that created danger his teammates pounced on. After Klimala occupied three different Miami defenders while trying to attack the ball, a bounce into the air was left free for the 5’8” Omir Fernandez to leap and fire it in to double the New York lead. As if things weren’t going well enough for New York, Miami’s old habits gave the Red Bulls another gift before the half.

As pointed out by our Ross Haley in July, this Miami team is susceptible to poor discipline and petulant play when struggling, and Friday night against a rolling Red Bulls team was no exception. After Leandro Gonzalez Pirez sparked a minor brawl with a kick and taunt at Fabio, Jorge Figal was sent off in the 38th minute after collecting his second yellow card for an off-ball clotheslining of Patryk Klimala.

Despite the good fortune, Gerhard Struber would mention postgame that he was worried about his team’s potential to lose focus and discipline against 10 men and decided to change formation for the second half, with Wiki Carmona replaced by Andrew Gutman being deployed as a third center back. Struber’s concerns would end up being in vain as his team’s dominance continued in the second half. Miami rarely came close to threatening a comeback, and in the meantime Fábio broke a scoring slump with two headed goals to confirm the blowout, first off a John Tolkin corner and second off a Kyle Duncan cross.

A beaming Gerhard Struber appeared beyond relieved post-match for his team to get a mentality-shifting win ahead of a challenging final two months of the season.

“Right now, it’s a good feeling in my brain and my soul. I think we work so hard today, in the end with success and with the right result. In the end, the demonstration of pressing in the first half, synchronized pressing, everyone on the same page, everyone ready to go to give everything, you leave everything on the field, and this makes the difference in the end.”

“When we begin with the first half, I think we start with a different shape like with the ball.I think it became a 4-2-3-1, which was a new situation for many players, but I think the distances and also the triggers that they have. I think in the end, it brings success and, in the end, it was the right decision that we come from this shape and our transition and our control on the ball, our position, everything in the first half got going exactly the way that we want.”

Goalscorer Patryk Klimala and captain Sean Davis emphasized talks and communication over the past week as crucial to the team’s potential turnaround, and cited Friday’s win as the fruits of such communication paying off already.

“The problem (with scoring in recent weeks) was not with the system, it was a problem with communication,” said Klimala. “I think the last three games we understand more how I play, and not just high balls behind because defenders have to see every view of me, and I think we understand more how I like to play, and this is the reason why I scored two goals and one assist in the last three games.”

“The plan was the same every game the last three games and we just had to keep going with our pressing, our mentality the last two to three games was not good enough. This is what we spoke about after the last game. We made it up to ourselves and we did this today, everybody was motivated before the game. I think you could see this during the whole game.”

Davis reiterated the team’s improved mentality ahead of a crucial week where the Red Bulls not only have the chance to thrust themselves back into the playoff race, but have the chance to do it against arch rivals New York City FC.

“I think it just reinforces that we can execute at a high level in terms of how we play. We have a unique playing style and that requires everyone to be on the same page for 90 minutes. I think it is really important for our group, especially being a younger team to stick with our principles, to stick with the process to show up every day with the right intensity that when our backs are against wall, it is important to show who we really are and to have a game like this, it gives us a lot of momentum going forward.”

“We use these next few days in the right way, and we are ready to attack New York on Wednesday, especially at home. That is the mission, no time for complacency, obviously, we need to have a strong stretch and that is the message to the team right now.”