With a full week off, the New York Red Bulls looked refreshed and dominant in a 3-0 win over FC Dallas. And it was all because of a sterling backline.
FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls squared off and provided the marquee matchup of the day across MLS. From the numbers alone, Dallas and New York tallied the most points in MLS since 2014. So, naturally, the game provided a barometer of each team’s respective progression in 2018.
How will the Red Bulls respond fresh off a round-of-16 exit in the U.S Open Cup? And how can Dallas perform on the road without their catalyst, Mauro Diaz, against one of the best teams in MLS?
From the opening whistle, it was the Red Bulls who looked like the sharper side. And they took no time in snatching the lead, a 23rd-minute Bradley Wright Phillips tap-in assisted by Tyler Adams.
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The pivotal moment of the match, however, came in the 27th minute when Daniel Royer’s tackle on Jacori Hayes warranted a red card via VAR review. Just when Dallas started to gain momentum, Aaron Long’s scissor kick off a corner put the Red Bulls ahead 2-0 going into halftime.
Dallas’ inept performance was compounded by Jesse Gonzalez’s blunder on New York’s third goal and Reto Zeigler’s 89th-minute red card. FC Dallas lost just their second game of the season, but remain 2nd in the Western Conference.
Dominant Display with 10 Men
In a match where FC Dallas played most of the match a man up, they managed to look like the team with the disadvantage. To Kaku, New York’s success after the red card was no surprise.
"Yes, we work on that. Many times we play 10v8, 10v9, that’s good because we sought to have the ball when we’re down a man and I think that is what happened."
Without the offensive contributions from the defense, the Red Bulls could have easily lost control of the match had Dallas equalized. The Red Bulls are now tied on goals scored with Atlanta heading into Sunday and a big reason for that is the 11 different players who have gotten on the score sheet.
The added help did not go unnoticed by Bradley Wright-Phillips.
"It’s nice. Honestly, I like goals coming from everywhere. It always takes the pressure off the attacking players having to get goals. What a goal Aaron Long’s was today. Great finish."
When Long wasn’t scoring, he was working in unison with Tim Parker to quell FC Dallas’ attack. Parker finished with five recoveries, six clearances and two interceptions, while Long had four recoveries, five clearances and two interceptions. FC Dallas’ Maxi Urruti struggled all game, the Argentine forward played the full 90 and had the least amount of touches and completed passes among all starters.
Long actually felt the advantage hindered Urruti:
"Once we went down to 10 men, he was cheating offside a lot trying to get crosses into the box so just limiting their crosses limited his touches."
The players responsible for the lack of crosses, Kemar Lawrence and Connor Lade, had a busy game last night too. Lade had a team-high six tackles, two interceptions, five clearances and four recoveries. Lawrence, meanwhile, played high up on the field and was rewarded with his goal in the 48th minute. Despite scoring his first goal of 2018, however, Lawrence was more excited to get three points.
"You know, I’m not one that is all about the goals, I’m more about clean sheets, my team getting three points but getting the goal was fun. The guys created a great play, snuck me in, I got a good touch and nobody was in the box for me to pass to so I decided to shoot. I shot, the keeper was kind of cheating a bit. It’s not really a big deal, but I’m really happy about the three points."
It is that team attitude, stemming from a solid back line that has now added goals to the equation, that has seen the Red Bulls rise up the MLS ranks.