Second Guessing, Failure to Execute Doom Marsch’s Red Bulls

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

COLUMBUS, OH. – Discipline and dominance have been two of the New York Red Bulls’ most defining characteristics this season — but the team lacked in both categories for the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Now, the Red Bulls have a big hill to climb after conceding two goals to Columbus on the road at Mapfre Stadium.  

According to captain Dax McCarty, who labeled the Red Bulls “naive” going into the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals, that failure came down to execution of game plan.

“Columbus changed the way they played,” the captain began. “We’ve proven that our pressure can cause them problems. They played a little bit more direct. They gave us the ball a little bit, and when we got into the midfield they wanted to press us, and make it difficult for us [to make a play].

“Credit to them, they played their game plan well. We didn’t.”

The Red Bulls, who have suffocated opposition through a dominant midfield, were largely beaten at their own game on Sunday night. That effected the way they approached the match as the game wore on. Facing a road loss at Mapfre Stadium, a building where they have never won in the post season (0-2-0 lifetime), coach Jesse Marsch and his staff were at a crossroads in the second half. Although the Red Bulls were getting meaningful possession and were able to push upfield, Marsch chose to make an offensively minded sub, instead of making a more conscientious change. “I said to our staff at the 70’ minute, ‘Do we want to go into a defensive posture and say 1-0 is good enough?’”

“I felt like we had things under control defensively, and I feel like we were knocking on the door (offensively).” Marsch continued, “At that moment you’re kind of assessing what the game looks like, and seeing what subs you have that affect the game in a positive way. In the end, maybe we should have made a defensive sub.”

McCarty echoed that sentiment. “You look at it, 1-0 is probably a good result going back to Red Bull Arena but we give up the second goal, and it’s an uphill battle, but we’re going to stay positive.”

Of course, the narrative of poor form after long layoffs continues. New York and the Crew endured a bye-week in observance of the FIFA international calendar. Any time this season that the Red Bulls have found themselves reeling after such breaks, McCarty and his teammates have responded in resounding fashion, bouncing back from seemingly deflating losses. In fact, the Red Bulls have been sparkling after any loss, earning a 6-2 record after losing a match, outscoring their opponent 20-7.

However, history can only indicate so much. There is still the issue of the Red Bulls executing a game plan. That point could be seen seconds into the match when Meram put Columbus ahead; a moment Jesse Marsch felt the team was prepared to handle.

“The first goal was a designed play off of a kick off, and we still let them beat us,” he said. “That part was very disappointing.”

“In the regular season when they beat us 2-1, they played direct. They played off Kamara, and he just flicked it on, and the head runner is running off it. They do it ten seconds into the game (tonight), and for some reason we’re surprised,” McCarty said. “We don’t defend it properly, so you spot a good team like Columbus a goal at the start of a series and your fighting and clawing your way to get back.”

“The conditions were tough. It was tough to move the ball quickly.” McCarty continued, “We weren’t as sharp on the day with our passing, with our movement, with the way we normally attack. The chance creation wasn’t there.”

One fact remains clear; if the Red Bulls are to pull out a win in this series, their execution must find a way to recover, refocus, and execute their game plan that Marsch and the coaching staff lay out for them. Otherwise, 20 years of playoff futility and frustration is sure to continue, and New York’s season will come to a very abrupt end.


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  • Sammy

    Just btw,is anyone yet satisfied with my theory that Veron was a bag of mediocre,damaged goods?

  • MTF

    Veron certainly looked mediocre last night…definitely not an upgrade over Grella. However, I think Veron is very much a 2016 signing. He wasn’t brought in as a ‘final piece’ to building a championship team. I’d like to give him a preseason with the team, and then we can better judge.

    • Sammy

      Yeah but he’s a DP….that’s my point. I just don’t see it and I got a feeling we got taken. I’d take grella any day over him.

      • ElMetrofan

        I think MLS rules say that transfer fees payed account for team’s salary cap for the during the their contract years. He’s salary is only like 120k I believe no 1 or 2 mil.

    • troy

      Before people start blaming one person for last night’s debacle, remember Veron was the one who made that brilliant pass to BWP for the 2nd leg win against DCU. He can have an off game and not be sent to the cleaners for it.

      Everyone played mediocre last night, except maybe Robles and frankly we had some good shots that just didn’t make it in the net. We need to come up big next Sunday.

      • slowleftarm

        at least we have the worthless Supporters Shield great

  • Cbus beat us at our own game. Pressed us and poor completion rate. Dax very poor and Sacha poor game.
    Kemar hurt us on that first goal and the 2nd was a Miazga sleeper.

  • slowleftarm

    this team’s destiny is FAILURE.

  • Cosmo

    So what happens if red bull don’t make MLS cup at least, will they get a trophy for beating nycfc.
    But let’s be honest, red bull needs at least 2 big dps with experience like a beckham or another Henry when it comes to big games.
    I wonder if garber will be happy or sad if red bull don’t make it to MLS cup.

    • slowleftarm

      this franchise is a joke and where are all their great fans today ? little light in the comments section today huh ?

    • exposed

      Well they fired the last coach because “he didn’t get the job done” which was only winning the SS and go to the east finals. If they lose to Columbus then same result.

      • slowleftarm

        and he lost to that great Cosmo team as well in the Open Cup. A horrible performance.

  • I think Marsch is to blame for the tactical blunders. You can’t play every game the same way. Playing a high pressure 4-2-3-1 isn’t exactly his creation,yet people make it sound like he invented it. He didn’t adapt,at all,they lose. Not the only reason,but a big reason

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