The slow-burning nightmare that is the home schedule for the New York Red Bulls in 2022 kept its pace on Saturday night.
After yet another game that Gerhard Struber’s team dominated, FC Dallas nonetheless survived with a 0-0 draw as New York’s scoring struggles continued. Despite outshooting the Texans 20 to 5 and a four-fold margin in the expected goals quotient, Struber’s team failed to find a finishing touch and walked away with only their second point in four home matches so far in 2022.
Struber’s lineup saw some notable wrinkles as designated players Patryk Klimala and Dru Yearwood both started from the bench as Struber both rotated for a midweek Open Cup tie and sought a different attacking equation to turn around the team’s attacking struggles. Ashley Fletcher made his first start for New York as a single striker, with Luquinhas as the lead attacking midfielder underneath with Lewis Morgan and Omir Fernandez on his flanks.
The first half was largely in New York’s favor with seven shots to two for Dallas. Struber’s 4-2-3-1 eventually shifted into a 3-5-2 with Tolkin pushing high after early wing attacks from Dallas. There was a conscious effort from the Red Bull to get numbers into the box, with Lewis Morgan attempting crosses from wide and Luquinhas and Omir Fernandez dovetailing on the other side with Tolkin. The most dangerous chance came in the 22nd minute when a loose ball forced Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes out of his net to head away from Luquinhas – a rebound from Lewis Morgan was chipped towards the empty net but cleared off the Dallas line with a header by Matt Hedges. A second notable opening occurred in the 41st minute when a nifty carry by Frankie Amaya ended with an incisive diagonal ball that created a deflected John Tolkin shot.
The second half saw New York turn up the heat on Dallas even further but to no avail. A flurry of chances came in the opening ten minutes of the half – most of which falling to Omir Fernandez in a crowded box with no payoff. The game became a stoppable force meets slightly-movable object as Dallas struggled to escape their own half but the Red Bulls once again struggled to create clear danger, and again slipping into a telegraphed crossing attack in the late stages.
As New York continued to commit men forward, Dallas found occasional opportunities via counter-attacks; most notably a flubbed chance by Paul Arriola coming just moments after Franco Jara forced a characteristic result-saving stop from Carlos Coronel in the 83rd minute. But as the Red Bulls became increasingly frustrated and desperate to score in the game’s final minutes the match became choppy and physical, with Tom Edwards earning a yellow card for a frustrated skirmish with Dallas attacker Alan Velasco. As Fotis Bazakos blew the final whistle on a scoreless draw, a shoving match erupted between Dallas striker Jara and several New York defenders undoubtedly frustrated with another dominant but disappointing home performance.
“What we invest in this game, in all four phases of the game, we create what we want and get the chances we want,” said Gerhard Struber postgame as his team remains 3rd in the Eastern Conference on the back of perfect road form. “But in the end, we don’t score, and we can’t leave a performance like this with one point.”
“I think it’s in these moments that we need a little more balance and not be surprised by the chances we create – the players need to stay cool. We are a professional soccer team and we have to realize these points at home.”
Captain Aaron Long seconded Struber’s thoughts that the team had a “decent performance” with another clean sheet but that the team’s lack of sharpness in the final third continues to let good run-outs go unrewarded. On the fights at the end of the match, Long said “you saw a lot of guys who want to win” and that team expects to have scoring luck go their way soon.
The team faces its quickest turnaround of the young season thus far with an Open Cup tie against Hartford Athletic in Connecticut, with both captain and coach staking out the midweek tie as an opportunity to open the scoring floodgates the team is confident on.
“It is not a time to experiment,” said Struber on the match against a second-division side. “We must show our power.”