2. Dangers of the press
In a perfect example of New York Red Bulls soccer, Chris Armas and his team were able to beat and shutout Atlanta United thanks to a suffocating high press.
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Despite finding an early goal courtesy of Florian Valot, the Red Bulls saw no reason to change their gameplan of frustrating Atlanta United with an immense amount of pressure high up the field. They surely benefited from Josef Martinez’s absence but the Red Bulls are the masters of the high press and they executed it brilliantly here.
Armas went with a 4-4-2 which often saw Valot and Kaku press up as high as Tom Barlow and Daniel Royer in the front two positions. Valot exposed a pocket of space during a counter-attack and was found by a perfect ball from Kaku. The Frenchman’s calm finish was enough to give the Red Bulls a lead just four minutes into their tournament play and eventually a huge win in Group E.
The press worked perfectly against Atlanta. But will they have the same success against the Columbus Crew, especially with former Atlanta star Darlington Nagbe anchoring Caleb Porter’s midfield. Nagbe is a renowned press-resistant midfielder. Atlanta’s struggles in his absence only serve to display his importance. If the Red Bulls get the press wrong, they will leave themselves exposed. And against the Crew’s attacking options, that could spell trouble.