Lack of Finishing Dooms Red Bulls in Home Opener

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

Harrison, NJ – As the banner for the 2015 Supporters Shield dropped, so did the curtain on the 2016 Season. However, the New York Red Bulls failed to find their rhythm, dropping their home opener to Toronto FC 2-0.

Sebastian Giovinco opened the scoring on a penalty shot in the 85th minute and Marcos Delgado sealed the match in extra time in front of 21,303 fans at Red Bull Arena.

New York started the game looking much differently than the previous year, with head coach Jesse Marsch deploying his troops in a 4-2-2-2 formation.

Despite New York’s new look, the Red Bulls seemed the more stable of the two teams. However, a new look also meant that the triangle of Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, and Dax McCarty no longer defined the Red Bulls transition. Instead, the attack relied on the combination play of all players positioned ahead of the defense.

While the Red Bulls controlled the bulk of the possession, New York struggled to find chances in the final third. Despite 10 total shots, the Red Bulls only managed one shot on target.

“With the first game of the season, you know we aren’t going to be our sharpest. We had certain moments where we would normally create better chances or finish plays off, and we don’t quite do it,” Jesse Marsch stated as he addressed the media after the match.

The loss represented only the second time Toronto had beaten New York at home, and the first victory by the Reds in Harrison. Finishing was certainly at a premium, and despite the statistical disparity in possession, and New York controlling large swaths of play, Toronto left with all three points.

In the 82′ minute, rookie Tsubasa Endoh took a pass from Giovinco in the 18 yard box with a clear look at goal. With Kemar Lawrence at his back, Endoh went to ground, drawing a penalty kick from official Allen Chapman. Giovinco converted the PK, tucking it between an outstretched Luis Robles and the left post.

To that point, Marsch had been adjusting his team, moving from the two strikers, back to a 4-2-3-1, and then pulling winger Lloyd Sam in favor of Anatole Abang. Once Toronto went up a goal, March gambled. He pulled Ronald Zubar in lieu of Sean Davis, leaving New York with three in the backfield. While there were a few defensive miscues from New York in the 2nd half, none had resulted in a goal, until a rare poor pass from captain Dax McCarty and missed assignment left Sal Zizzo to defend a 2 on 1 from Giovinco and Marky Delgado, who slotted his shot passed Robles to put the match to bed.

One positive from the loss, however, was newcomer Gideon Baah. Several times, his ball handling skills and speed left Toronto attackers wanting, and at first look seems up to the task of filling the void left by Matt Miazga’s departure.

Marsch, who focused on positives being taken away from the opening day loss, was pleased with the play of his new centerback pairing. “I thought he was very good. On the ball, he was fantastic. He and Ronald (Zubar) cut off a lot of plays and made it hard on Giovinco, (who) didn’t touch the ball much, but every time he does, he’s dangerous. (Baah) and Ronald were both big positives on the day.”

In athletics as in life, it helps to have a short memory, and Marsch and his troops can ill afford to dwell on this loss. The Red Bulls have a week to regroup and work on their sharpness. New York travels north of the border, to Montreal on Saturday March 12th at 4:30pm.

  • Larry\’s A Simpleton

    I see the guy who counts the attendance is in mid season form. 21000 my fat black ass. Red Bull arena was empty as usual.

    • slowleftarm

      There are times it’s inflated but I think that was a reasonable count. It holds over 26000 and only the areas above the north end of the stadium were not full.

      • Dan

        its never full its a joke

    • Dan

      The RB’s are such a joke of a team with their coward supporters and even smaller attendance .

  • taco monster

    rebrand this team garber, obviously red bull loves their marketing scheme but its so sad watching red bull tifo instead of a real team identity.
    look at Portland timbers tifo, the timbers have a realteam identity and their fans know.
    red bull.arena is supposed to be sold out every game and their fans deserve a real identity.

    • slowleftarm

      Every game this guy posts this nonsense.

    • John Dillion

      They will be rebranded and the team will be moved to S. Jersey. The fanbase is very limited.

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  • Not Matt Miazga

    Fantastic performance by Baah. Games like this happen all the time, one team dominates, they don’t find a way to score, and the opponent gets lucky. The numbers were accurate, 21K in the house. Not only did it look like 21K, the traffic leaving the arena reflected it. Not too worried about my boys, they have an excellent backline, more than I can say about other local teams.