Another “team performance” leads Red Bulls to victory

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

Harrison, NJ – It wasn’t all that long ago that the Red Bulls had completed a less-than-auspicious run earned just three points and a 1-6 record to start the season. The goals were not coming, injuries were piling up and times were generally dark for New York.

Now, the Red Bulls have successfully changed the narrative. New York has lost only once in the last eight games. They have ridden fantastic defensive performances  to amass five clean sheet victories across all competitions. Their record over that span is 6-1-1. Add in stellar attacking play to 13 unanswered goals, and the Red Bulls are actually two points ahead in the standings of last year’s pace.

Last night’s performance was no different. New York came roaring back from the break to ride a Mike Grella brace, and a defensive gem to put themselves just one point out of the Eastern Conference lead.

With all the concerns about momentum coming out of the Copa America break, Head Coach Jesse Marsch sees these clean sheets as a complete team effort. “There’s a lot of pride right now in the group to get shutouts and to prevent goals from going in. So Connor sliding; all of our backs are sliding around; Dax and Felipe are running back; on-set pieces you see our guys making big, desperate plays. Luis is doing a good job of keeping everybody tuned in, surveying, making saves, being so solid,” Marsch said after the match.

“That’s going to be a key for us moving forward here is we’ve got to continue to find ways to get clean sheets and not give goals away.”

MLS assist leader Sacha Kljestan agreed with his coach. “The defense came up big in a few big moments and Luis made a few saves and they didn’t really capitalize on their chances they had early in the game, otherwise it could have been different. I’m very happy we get a shutout, the defenders made so very good plays.”

Luis Robles quietly put in a quality performance vs. Seattle. The 2015 Goalkeeper of the Year made three saves last night, and kept his backline organized throughout as Seattle pressed New York for a goal in the 2nd half. During the streak, he’s benefited from the players in front of him playing incredibly stingy team defense.

“Yeah defensively the thing that has been so special about the last five games is that it’s been an entire team working as one unit. All the way from Brad to our outside midfielders to our guys in the middle, then of course the back line all the way back to myself,” Robles said. “Of course when I see that happening it gives me a lot of confidence that we’re going to do a great job defensively and they got some opportunities in the first half and they opened us up a little bit but we kept it tight in the second half and that’s why we were able to finish the shutout tonight.”