RBNY: New Formation, Same Issues

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

The New York Red Bulls unveiled a new 4-2-2-2 formation against the Vancouver Whitecaps in Leg 1 of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series only to find the results similar to that of 2016. The team dominated possession and pushed forward, but were susceptible to the counter attack and ended up chasing the game after giving up an early goal. The match ended in a 1-1 tie.

“As usual you see that there are some counter attacks in there,” Coach Jesse Marsch said after the game Wednesday night, speaking about the formation. “Especially when we play at home, because we have the ball a lot and we’re trying to probe and find chances and then if you lose balls and aren’t controlling the spaces in the back you can set up the other way.”

The game-plan on how to beat Marsch’s high-press has been common knowledge for some time. Last season DC United Coach Ben Olsen’s strategy was to wait out New York, knowing opportunities would present themselves. But New York’s habit of surrendering two-goal leads helped cost the team back-to-back Supporters Shields. Now, in early 2017, it seems the issues are the same.

“It reminds me a little of our first game against Toronto last year,” said Marsch, referring to the feeling of frustration in the locker room. “We had a lot of the possession, we were creating a lot of half-chances, but we weren’t sharp enough on the day.”

What Marsch does now is only conjecture, but if he follows past practice his approach is not likely to change. He has wanted to use a two-striker formation for some time with Gonzalo Verón playing next to Bradley Wright-Phillips, but those plans fell victim to injuries last season.

“You could see some really good moments, I think, with Gonzalo and Brad then trying to get Sacha [Kljestan] involved,” Marsch said. “I thought it’s a day that doesn’t come down to tactics as must as just the flow of the game, going after the game the right way and the making a couple plays.”

Marsch and the Red Bulls get to try again against the Whitecaps in Thursday’s second leg.