Category Archives: New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls Keep my Fascination

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, May 22: 2-2 draw

Who doesn’t love a midweek non-conference match-up that runs right up against evening rush hour?

Okay, maybe not a lot of people. But I made the effort to see the New York Red Bulls take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. I just love me some “O Canada!”

And he was there, smiling and waving to fans who have never stopped loving him. Even though he tried to do to the Red Bulls what he had done for them not too long ago.

It seems a little time is needed: I am leery of any sport that adults can play with a quick turnaround, even multiple games in one day (I’m looking at you, baseball…). So it’s important to point out that a midweek game sandwiched between a Sunday match and a Saturday match is pretty rough. Not to worry! says the coaching staff. The “next man up” mentality is vital to the Red Bulls and their pressing play, so they tried something different. While there is no such thing as an unimportant game, this was a chance for Chris Armas to show what could be accomplished in an unusual situation.

Decisions to be made: No Parker- no problem. Sean Nealis went in after Tim Parker was sent off Sunday, so bringing him in for Parker’s suspension made total sense. Aaron Long still smarting from a hamstring pull? Amro Tarek will do just fine. Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo need a rest? Bring in Connor Lade and Kyle Duncan. When you want to give some time off to Sean Davis, look no further than Alex Muyl, utility player extraordinaire. Brian White and Derrick Etienne, Jr. got in a much-needed shift up top, especially as Etienne heads to the Gold Cup for the Haitian national team. But no one in the starting lineup was any sort of stranger to the pitch. This could have been a joyride.

The best of plans mislaid: Literally ANY time a team thinks that this should be easy is when it’s not. A massive counterattack just before the half-hour mark put the Whitecaps ahead, with Scott Sutter scoring the opening goal.

In an old familiar way: And get it back, they did. Tarek and White got their heads on a ball to level the match before halftime. White also crossed the ball early in the second half that Vancouver defender Andy Rose got a foot on before going into the net. I’m a generally positive person, so I would prefer to call it a brace for Brian White rather than an own goal. I’m also not a statistician, so I don’t have to be all that accurate.

And so the conversation turned: Reminiscent of the matchup against Sporting Kansas City, the Red Bulls ended up tying when they really could have won. The ball grazed Nealis’s arm in the box– and here’s my first time actually saying this for this season– and ENTER VAR. Vancouver was awarded a kick from the spot, which Fredy Montero converted to bring the game level again. Although Armas brought out some trustworthy attackers like Davis and Daniel Royer, as well as Tom Barlow, nothing found the back of the net for the remainder of the match.

So yeah– it’s a draw that feels a little like a loss. But maybe it was worth the stumble. We’ll see who and what the team has to offer Saturday, when they head out to Ohio to face FC Cincinnati (which I know how to spell now). RBNY scraped out a win their last meeting this season, so hopefully they can keep their fans feeling fascination.

Featured image:  @BillTNJ

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New York Red Bulls Are the Storm

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, May 19th: 1-0 win

This may come as a shock to you: Soccer reporting is only a small part of my life. Outside of this, I’m your quasi-typical soccer mom. And quite frankly, the weather has really been cramping my style lately. So when I saw the weather forecast for Sunday, I didn’t hold back:

But it all worked out. My sons had their regularly scheduled games. I was able to go to Red Bull Arena to watch the New York Red Bulls face Atlanta United. The promised thunderstorm politely waited until I was home safe that night.

And boy, am I glad I made it!

You would always win, always win: Against the expansion team, RBNY has usually done well. Their tendency to falter in away legs– something they haven’t completely overcome– did them in during the 2018 playoffs. But Atlanta has never scored on them in Red Bull Arena. Something something fortress. I’ll let it slide.

And I threw us into the flames: The first half was mostly a whole bunch of nothing. Both teams were clearly determined to get out in front, which moved the game much like a tennis match. But in the 35th minute, Tim Parker received a straight red for a foul on Josef Martinez. Having already lost Aaron Long to injury, this match was shaping up to be a daunting task. But the team gave a collective, “hold my electrolyte squeeze bottle.”

And as it fell, you rose to claim it:  Tom Barlow, bright-eyed and full of promise. A midwestern collegian and SuperDraft pick. A powerhouse for the USL squad who had made the big time. His second outing, his third touch of the night. Substitute Sean Nealis supplied the ball to Danny Royer, who sent the ball across the face of the goal. A header that bobbled past Brad Guzan. Yes, *that* Brad Guzan. The only goal of the night, which led to Barlow being named Man of the Match.

But there’s a side to you:  Of course this match was touted as an opportunity for revenge. Particularly for Kemar Lawrence, who was injured in a match at Mercedes-Benz Arena and had to be taken to the hospital. Then a knee injury kept him out of the playoff series that Atlanta won on their way to the MLS Cup. The flu kept him sidelined for a few matches this year, and the team felt the absence more often than not. So nothing was going to hold him down in this matchup. I’ve spoken to Lawrence in the past, and he is, as they say across the pond, “cool as you like.” But he was all fired up as the game ended!

Is it the most sporting thing to do? Maybe not. But no one was hurt, and fans can have an appreciation for the passion. No one was penalized, so it clearly wasn’t that big of a deal. Now the team prepares for a midweek bout against former teammate Felipe Martins and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

You and me together nothing gets better: Also….the morning of the match, I had to drive my oldest son to his game. He just turned 15. While his team lost 5-1, he at least scored the one goal for his side. And the next night his team advanced to the semi-finals of the MCYSA League Cup.

(P.S. If you ask nicely– and buy me a drink– I’ll sing this for you at Karaoke night)

Featured image: Sylvana Budesheim

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New York Red Bulls Dance On

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, May 11th: 1-3 Win

Just three days after their home loss to the Impact, the New York Red Bulls went to Deepinaharta, Texas…. okay, Frisco. FC Dallas, coming into the match in fifth place in the Western Conference, wanted to bounce back from a loss to the Houston Dynamo. But like a gift from the heavens, the Red Bulls turned things around and are bringing home three points.

A piece to the puzzle that falls into place: If you correctly predicted the Starting XI for the Red Bulls, you should go out and buy a lottery ticket. Word is that captain Luis Robles stayed home. I can only imagine an injury kept him out, even though he was not listed on the injury report. Weird flex, but okay. Ryan Meara has been amazing before, particularly in the Open Cup. The team was in good gloves.

Every soul in the room keeping time with their hands:Venezuelan midfielder Cristian Casseres, Jr. hasn’t made the starting lineup too much. But his goal in the twelfth minute should really make a case for him going forward. Also, Andreas Ivan with the assist was a thing of beauty.

The devil himself could be pulled out of me: When I first started following RBNY, stoppage time was nervewracking. They most often conceded goals in those last few moments before the whistle. That was what made the leveler from Jesus Ferreira so upsetting. Going into the half tied, while better than chasing the game, was not ideal.

There were drums in the air: Sean Nealis, the Hofstra graduate and 2019 draft pick, stepped up at centerback with Aaron Long recovering from a hamstring injury. While technically Michael Amir Murillo nailed the ball to the net in the 58th minute, Nealis got the credit for putting his noggin on it.

You could tell how we felt: Brian White also made a goal to sew up the game (85′). This was White’s second goal this season.  No Bradley Wright-Phillips? No Royer? NO PROBLEM! Let’s see if anyone from this lineup dances on into the night of the 19th, when Atlanta United rolls into town.

P.S. I had it in my head that playing Dallas called for a little Carlos Santana. Don’t give me a hard time about Chad Kroeger– for this song, it works.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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New York Red Bulls Fall Apart

 

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, May 8: 1-2 loss

Having missed a heck of a show last Saturday (a 3-2 win over the mighty Galaxy), I was looking forward to the team going three in a row at home. They’ve had a rough go of things so far this season, with only three wins. But their fortune was turning around, and another win against a Piatti-less Montreal Impact would set them up for a positive road trip to Dallas.

Don’t look now; things just got worse.

I got my wings: The RBNY pipeline has multiple channels. Tom Barlow, selected in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, cut his teeth in the USL squad and made a big impression. He has already put up six goals this season for RBII, so Sporting Director Denis Hamlett gave him the big call-up: he signed a first team contract. Just hours after the official announcement, Barlow found himself in the Starting XI.

It was a bit of a surprise to the Missouri native. “I was supposed to go to Canada with the USL team and I tried handing in my passport and they said I’m not going.” (Red Bulls II played to a 1-1 draw against the Ottawa Fury the same day as the MLS match).

With striker Bradley Wright-Phillips still out with an injury, it was time to ‘shop the closet’ and bring in someone the organization hopes is ready for the next level. Keeping his USL number 74 jersey, he also played 74 minutes.

While he didn’t score the hat trick I was of course expecting, he made a good showing. The only way for a player like Barlow to get used to being in MLS is for him to actually be in MLS. This is admittedly easier said than done, especially when the team overall isn’t doing well. But that’s not on Barlow. I’m excited for the kid… and I know how ‘Soccer Mom’ that makes me sound. I’m not ashamed.

When things start to feel right: For the third straight game, a defender tallied a goal for RBNY. This time, it was Aaron Long, 2018 MLS Defender of the Year. Our own Captain America. His header off Marc Rzatkowski’s free kick was perfection. It was the kind of set piece goal that had been New York’s signature threat in seasons past. All they had to do was continue in that vein for the second half.

You can count on me to start to doubt it: When Maxi Urruti put an inswinger to Zakaria Diallo and Diallo leveled the match, it was a small disappointment. The game was just past the hour mark– plenty of time to renew the attack, or at least hold the tie and get a point.

But Aaron Long’s over-emphatic defense on Anthony Jackson-Hamel resulted in a penalty kick for the Impact. Urruti took the kick from the spot, opening his account for the season with the conversion. Another defensive move from Long moments later sparked a hamstring injury that forced him off the field.

Manager Chris Armas had already spent his three substitutions on attacking options, so the team was forced to play with only ten men for the last ten minutes of the match. Thankfully the Red Bulls were able to keep Montreal from capitalizing on the advantage. Granted the damage had already been done. So now the Red Bulls head to Dallas trying to put it back together.

P.S. When the Red Bulls were winning, I was all set to use one song. Then I chose another when they were tied. I was at a loss when the team… well– lost. But thanks to my satellite radio for coming in clutch.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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New York Red Bulls Celebrate 100 Wins

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, April 27: 1-0 Win

The weather is warmer, the sun staying a little longer. The tailgate celebrations are louder, the crowds… a little bigger. The New York Red Bulls welcomed class of 2019 expansion side FC Cincinnati to Red Bull Arena. The teams last met in the 2017 Open Cup; it ended as any Red Bull fan had hoped.

He may be mellow: Saturday marked the 5th annual Autism Awareness night. The “Light it up Blue” event was marked by a slightly quieter public announcement system, free sensory aids, and a reminder of the league’s only permanent Sensory Room for overwhelmed visitors. The usual red numbers on the team kits were replaced with a dazzling blue. These kits, as well as the team’s walkout shirts, will be auctioned off to benefit Autism Speaks. I don’t think I can afford any of them, so if anyone wants to send me one, feel free*.

Take my time: The whole first half was rather slow. The Red Bulls dominated possession, but didn’t really do anything with it. Possession isn’t usually their thing, anyway. And it was unclear how the team would operate without Bradley Wright-Phillips and Cristian Casseres Jr.

Something just beyond what he’s told: The lone goal of the game came from… a defender. Connor Lade, that lovable veteran homegrown player, who had to recover from knee surgery–something I have to say way too much– to fight for his spot in a suddenly strong back line. He’s no massive centerback like Tim Parker and Aaron Long. He’s not an international outside back like Kemar Lawrence or Michael Amir Murillo. But what he is, is just what the team needed in that moment. This is the goal that helped Lade onto Team of the Week:

One hundred days, one hundred nights: It took a little longer than fans would have liked. Getting to one hundred wins at Red Bull Arena is an impressive feat. It took nine years and one month: the Red Bulls won their home opener on March 27th, 2010 against the Chicago Fire. Since then, this Cathedral of Soccer has hosted playoffs every year, as well as several Lamar Hunt Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches. It commemorates Bradley Wright-Phillips’ contributions to the team, and holds the names of several Metrostars and RBNY legends like Tony Meola and Thierry Henry. 

Most recently, the team’s three Supporter’s Shields were memorialized. This year, some sections in the upper level have been cordoned off, presumably for upgrades to the overall fan experience. Fans will have to trust the process, as they have with the team itself. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on what’s on the field instead.

*– I’m totally kidding, don’t send me free stuff. Unless, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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New York Red Bulls in the Land of Confusion

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, April 20: 1-0 loss

When I decided to make sure 100% of my articles had a musical theme, I did worry that there would be difficulty. Would I be forced to repeat myself? Would I rely on the same artists? Could there be a song that encapsulated the team performance, good, bad, or indifferent?

Behold, the power of music.

I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams: This is the same team that won the 2018 Supporter’s Shield, right? I mean, I was there. Compared to last year, this hardly looks like the same team.

Okay, so Tyler Adams left for German pastures. That shouldn’t have made such a difference. But losing 1-0 to the New England Revolution? Both teams were looking for just their second win of the season. Something’s clearly missing, and it’s not just a matter of personnel.

Losing control by the hour: It wasn’t like the Red Bulls had nothing going for them.  Overall, the team looked more like themselves, allowing New England to have the ball and trying to take advantage of turnovers. Shots came from all but three players who saw time on the field. Bradley Wright-Phillips alone was responsible for four shots. But nothing found the inside of the net. Instead, Cristian Penilla came off the bench in the 71st minute and scored just two minutes later. Even though Andreas Ivan tried to pull a super-sub move of his own, it hit the outside of the net instead. 

Not much love to go round: So the frustration is real. 1-2-4 on the season. There’s a saying in business– “If you can’t change the people, you have to change the people.” So if the current players and coaches aren’t up to snuff, it’s time to look for new players and coaches… right? The rumors about a certain former RBNY player coming back to coach were greatly unfounded. And new players will have to wait until summer, anyway.

The call of International Duty may help absent Red Bull hearts to grow fonder or allow new faces to make their impact. The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint. But something has to give, and soon. This coming weekend, RBNY hosts expansion squad FC Cincinnati.

(I loved the original, but it was written before most of the squad was born. So here’s the impressive cover version. I hope you don’t mind that I went with a video minus the uber-political imagery– we all know how Genesis and Disturbed feel.)

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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New York Red Bulls Foiled Again

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, March 30: 1-0 loss

NOTE: This one is kind of a deep dive. If you’re an actual Barenaked Ladies fan, you’ll know this one.

The New York Red Bulls faced the Chicago Fire at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. Trying to bounce back from a loss at home, they were looking at the second team in a row who were desperate for a win. In their benevolence, RBNY accommodated the Fire.

How in every visible way you shine: Following the International Break, the Red Bulls were back to full strength. Center back Aaron Long worked some kind of mullet magic, in that the US Men’s National Team won the friendly he played in, but tied the one in which he didn’t. Defender Kemar Lawrence went ninety minutes for the Reggae Boyz while he had still been ruled out in league play. And Alejandro “Kakú” Romero Gamarra returned from his duty with Paraguay and a suspension for what is being called ‘a club matter.’

Almost impossible to malign: I have been reluctant to discuss Kakú. As the season was starting up, there was a potential issue where Gamarra was itching to make a move to Club America in Liga MX. It would be easier for his family to visit him in Mexico than it is now. He and his agent said they were not fully compensated for the peripherals that went into a transfer deal. And then there were a bunch of tweets and Instagram posts that seemed to indicate that Kakú was downright frustrated and unhappy. This belied posts from the team, showing him smiling and joking, as well as putting in serious work.

Some fans said his agent was crying over sour grapes trying to get more money out of the Red Bull Global coffers. It has put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth– and I don’t mean the Yellow Edition energy drink… blech. This time last year, Gamarra was nuestro hijo más precioso. He has to make a real effort to remind fans why that was the case.

But just below where you shine you burn: It usually is much easier to pick apart a win, because there’s so much great stuff going on. Picking apart a loss, while not very enjoyable, can at least be satisfying. At least then there are a number of mistakes and issues that are easy to identify and hopefully easy to correct when the team returns to training. Not so here. Captain Luis Robles was credited with four saves. RBNY dominated possession nearly 2 to 1. And while both teams won an even number of duels, it did nothing for the scoreline.

You’ll never rust but I’ll never know: Instead of a former Red Bull edging out the team in the scoreline, it was a current one. During a tussle in the box, defender Tim Parker accidentally chested and cleared a shot on the wrong side of the line. Parker was a bit off-kilter the entire match, quite honestly. Prior to the Orlando match, there were rumblings that he had been hurt the week before to the point of possibly being on the injury report. Maybe he was indeed powering through something.

You can shine like silver all you want: The team used their full silver kit for the first time in Bridgeview. But they didn’t have the shining performance they were capable of. While Bradley Wright-Phillips had some better moments than in previous matches, he has only found the back of the net once this season. Andreas Ivan and Mathias Jørgensen saw more minutes on the field, but could not make anything happen. Overall, they were just aluminum.

The New York Red Bulls return to Harrison and welcome DETHLOON… I mean, Minnesota United.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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New York Red Bulls and a Pocket Full of Kryptonite

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, March 23: 0-1 loss

So there I was, at Red Bull Arena probably way too early for my own good. It was cold, as late March usually is. There was a promise of empanadas at some point in the evening, and a very confident New York Red Bulls team was going to face Orlando City, winless as they entered Harrison.

Well I don’t think I can handle this: If RBNY has a weakness, it’s desperate teams. The more cynical among the fans fretted over San Jose’s visit the week before. But the four-goal trouncing of the Quakes allayed those nerves. MLS being, well… MLS, the fear came right back with the Lions anyway. They braced themselves for Dom Dwyer and Portugal legend Nani to blitz a slightly depleted squad, thanks to the international duty absences.

Please put me in your plan: Manager Chris Armas brought out Amro Tarek at center back against his former team. Last year, Jesse Marsch did the same, slating Tommy Redding against Orlando. All things considered, things went better this time around. Alex Muyl, the Earthquake-crusher, was tapped to drop back when an apparent hamstring pull sent Connor Lade to the locker room for medical attention. Lade’s official substitution, Omir Fernandez, also had to be replaced when he averaged one foul suffered for every ten minutes he was on the field. Mathias JØrgenson put in a solid half hour on the pitch for RBNY. Still no hat trick*, but his star is on the rise.

*It occurs to me now that it might be unfair that I have inadvertently made that the benchmark. But here we are. I’m a high school teacher by trade: giving teenagers lofty standards is what I do.

It drives me up the wall and through the roof: Overall, there isn’t a whole lot to comment on with this match. Both teams stuck to their plans and the threats came and went at both ends. OCSC goalkeeper Brian Rowe was credited with three saves on the day. RBNY had seven corner kicks, as well as a couple of free kicks just outside the box. But it was a great big ball of nothing for over seventy minutes of play. Thank goodness for halftime empanadas.

I can’t believe my dilemma is real: Dwyer wasn’t the issue. And Nani? Let’s just say he was handled.

No, the only goal of the match came from former RBNY captain Sacha Kljestan. I still have a soft spot for my fellow Seton Hall Pirate and fellow person-whose-name-gets-misspelled- and-mispronounced-on-the-regular. So while it stinks that Kljestan finally made good on his promise to score on his former team, it’s really to his credit that he made something happen for either side. Besides, there are plenty of folks out there to be upset in my place.

RBNY returns to training this week, and then travels to face another former captain and another winless (and maybe a little desperate) team, the Chicago Fire. At least I can say the Red Bulls are one for one so far against teams named after historic disasters.

(The song is actually NOT called “Pocket Full of Kryptonite,” but the album is. And, to my knowledge, Jimmy Olsen never had a crush on Lois Lane. But this song still slaps.)

Featured image: @NewYorkRedBulls

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Home Sweet Home for New York Red Bulls

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, March 16: 4-1 Win

Ah, Spring. When young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of MLS. At least, we hope so. It was still rather chilly, but a bright sunny afternoon welcomed fans old and new to Red Bull Arena. The home match against the San Jose Earthquakes happens every other year, and new Quakes coach Matias Almeyda is looking to bring his team into the playoff conversation.

You know I’m a dreamer: This is already Matchday 3. The season is well on its way, with all its narratives being formed and tweaked. The Red Bulls have lived and learned with two home games in their latest attempt at the CONCACAF Champions League. But the league home opener is a special moment. A halftime ceremony celebrated the 2018 Supporter’s Shield, as well as the team’s previous two, which are all immortalized on the building itself. Recently retired former Red Bull Mike Grella was invited to hold up the 2015 Shield at the ceremony. Confetti-filled posters of the players from Decision Day 2018 were distributed to fans following the match.

RBNY supporters group, Vikings Army, display an “Unfinished Business” tifo at the home opener. Photo by Sylvana Budeshelm

Sometimes nothing keeps me together: The game itself didn’t look so good at the start. The Red Bulls were unsettled throughout the first half. The high press Red Bull thrives on was keeping them on the attack, but no one could find the back of the net. At the same time, the Earthquakes looked threatening after every turnover. Just five minutes into the match, Christian Espinoza sent a low shot past Luis Robles. Then, around the thirty-minute mark, a rough challenge sent midfielder Florian Valot to ground. With a scream. And anyone who saw and heard knew. The player who lost most of last season to a tear in his left ACL confirmed a few days after the game that he tore his right ACL. He bounced back once, and fans are confident he can do it again.

I’m on my way: In the 34th minute, homegrown Alex Muyl entered the pitch for Valot. While he had two off-target shots leading up to the halftime whistle, it was clear he was knocking on the door. But that happens a lot, and not just to Muyl. The entire first half was rife with missed opportunities. Kyle Duncan, who had done great work in the back line until the game against San Jose, scrambled for the first half but finally found his bearings in the second. It was time for RBNY to show what they were made of.

Just set me free: If you’re reading this, and you didn’t come to the game because some other commitment was going to have you missing the first half, let me tell you right now: the second half alone was worth the price of admission. Not one, but two goals from Alex Muyl, the first goal of the season for striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, and the final dagger from Daniel Royer.

Take me to your heart: Almost as soon as Wright-Phillips scored, he was substituted. In his place came Mathias Jorgensen, the eighteen-year-old Danish international who was the marquee signing of the Red Bulls’ off-season. And while he didn’t score a hat-trick right out of the gate, coach Chris Armas was happy with what he saw: “He almost scored. It’s right there for him.”

Whether he starts the next match, replaces Wright-Phillips earlier, or plays alongside him remains to be seen. But like many of the players on the roster, it’s about more than what fans see on gameday. “But if you got to know him a little bit the way we do, what a humble, hard-working team guy, and he fought hard, even in a few minutes,” Armas said. This is clearly the identity of the RBNY player, which belies the “villains of MLS” perception that other teams would like to foist upon them.

Enjoying back-to-back home games, the Red Bulls face former teammate Sacha Kljestan and Orlando City SC on Saturday.

Featured image: Sylvana Budeshelm

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Bye, Bye, Bye: Sundry Thoughts on New York Red Bulls

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Matchday 2: Bye Week from League Play

Well… it’s not like I don’t have anything to talk about. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

“… And if they tell two people…”: Look. I’ve ranted about all those folks who complain about attendance at games. It’s forced me to examine the phenomenon myself. Red Bulls are not much different than a lot of MLS teams.

It all comes down to this: a lot of folks in the tri-state area can think of other things they’d rather do than go to a soccer game. Their loss, I say, and I leave it at that. It certainly isn’t my job to look at arena attendance as a problem I must solve.

That being said, the solution may be sitting in front of the average supporter. I work with eight other adults. Just by talking about my writing and the team I cover, two of them are thinking of heading to a game this season.

Like the 1980s shampoo commercial illustrated, word of mouth can be the best way to bring people to a product. The home opener is this weekend– tell your friends.

That old familiar feeling: This is not to say I haven’t been to Red Bull Arena yet this season. I have– twice. For the third year in a row, RBNY earned a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. They started strong with a 5-0 aggregate win over Club Atletico Pantoja of Costa Rica (which meant they got to go to Costa Rica… my snow-shoveling self was a tad jealous).

But the quarterfinal round was a whole ‘nother thing. Liga MX team Santos Laguna, who wallopped their first opponent, Marathon (Panama) 11-2, rode that wave and eliminated Red Bull with an aggregate score of 6-2.

Fans may be asking, “Why,” or better yet, ”Why again?” It’s easy to say they aren’t in full season form, or injuries (Kemar Lawrence most notably) hampered their play. But it’s more than that.

Outspoken soccer pundit Ray Hudson said that CCL “holds a mirror” to MLS teams and says, ‘You’re getting better, but there’s still more work to be done.’ Houston Dynamo was eliminated as well, leaving Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City to try and flip the script.

Kid and Play: (As if I couldn’t show my age enough…) The young and international talent that RBNY has gathered for this season is nothing short of impressive. From Bronx native Omir Fernandez, who made his first professional goal in the Champions League, to Danish phenom Mathias Jorgensen, who hit the field for the first time in red against Santos this week, the club has their eyes on the future.

Putting them alongside established veterans like Bradley Wright-Phillips and Daniel Royer is the best way for them to elevate their game. Romanian international Andreas Ivan has proven this strategy is beneficial, as evidenced by a goal each in MLS and Champions League. But what may be even more important is what this shows young fans.

Everyone wants to see someone who looks like them in a spotlight, and that includes young people. Fans across the league: bring your kids while teams play their kids. You won’t be disappointed.  

P.S. What– did you think I wouldn’t include the song?

Featured image: Bill Twomey

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