Tag Archives: Chris Armas

Red Bull Playoffs: Do You Really Believe in Magic?

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, October 6th: 3-0 loss to Montreal

Season: 14W-14L-6D, +2 GD, 48 pts.

With a reportedly lackluster finish to the season (I’ll admit, I didn’t watch), the New York Red Bulls ended the 2019 regular season in 6th place in the Eastern Conference. Twenty-three points down from last year’s record-breaking, confetti-showering, champagne-puddle-making, Supporter’s Shield-winning season,  it was nothing to write home about.

They say the playoffs are a whole different season. Frankly, that’s what I can’t stand about them. But, here we are.

I can’t stand waiting around to dance

A solid two weeks and an International Break between the end of the season and the playoffs. Unavoidable, but still annoying. Defender Aaron Long put in another good shift for the USMNT, who is taking part in the CONCACAF Nations League. They trounced Cuba 7-0, as expected. But they also lost 2-0 to Canada. CANADA.

I don’t meant to be rude or anything. Canada’s MNT is on the upswing. The US… not so much. People blame it on the number of ‘meaningless’ games they’ve played since the match that must not be named. But meaningless matches don’t have to equate to meaningless mentalities. If everyone called up played as if they could never be called up again, we might see a huge difference.

RBNY midfielder Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra bagged a goal for Paraguay in this break as well. And it was lovely. Striker Omir Fernnadez put in some time with the US Youth National Team. Here’s hoping the same can be said for club as for country.

When will you stop wondering who you are?

Something I hear from manager Chris Armas, captain Luis Robles, and a number of other club members following a result is whether or not ‘we looked like us.’ When they utilize their signature high press, force turnovers, and pounce while not in possession, they look like themselves. When they play more direct, hog the ball, and allow the opposition to stretch them wide, they don’t look like themselves.

Guess what? They usually win when they look like themselves. Begs the question: why do they ever allow themselves to not look like that?

But you can only change yourself

There has been a fair amount of grumbling amongst fans this season. See my first paragraph for the main reasons why that is. More than one season ticket holder, voting with his or her dollars, has canceled to say they’ve had enough of waiting. Pundits are predicting a shake-up in the club.

But there are still multiple buses heading to Chester for the playoff match. Many more are headed down the Turnpike on their own. Morale may be low, but belief has not wavered.

What can’t happen in the off-season, win or lose, is nothing. Don’t sit around and complain about it.

All your friends, they got the nicest things

Shout out to my colleagues whose teams are also in the playoffs. Let’s enjoy this post-season.

(Spoiler alert, I’m finishing this article right before I head down to Talen Energy Stadium. The first day of matches have happened, and I watched most of them. Check out the subsequent articles, if you could.)

P.S. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it. I’m happy I got to use it.

Featured image: New York Red Bulls

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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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RBNY v LAFC

Kerissa Ward - New York Red Bulls/mlsfemale
New York Red Bulls Key Contributor

By Kerissa Ward // @kerissaward

Sunday, August 5: 2-1 Win

In the book Soccernomics, one of the things the authors talk about is how a team will do better more often than not when a new head coach or manager is hired.  It’s not because the manager is better than the last, it’s because the change creates a psychological shift in the players.  We see it all the time in the English Premier League.  Remember when Jose Mourinho left Chelsea a few years ago?  They were near the relegation zone when he was fired and replaced with Guus Hiddink.  The club immediately began playing better and managed to finish the season in 10th place.

The New York Red Bulls are no strangers to this phenomenon.  Before Jesse Marsch, no head coach has lasted longer than two years.  The changes usually happened in the off-season, though.  When Marsch left for RB Leipzig in July, it was the first time in a long time that the Red Bulls had to adjust to a new manager in the middle of the season.

When Chris Armas was named as RBNY’s new head coach, I was ready to see the same performance bump.  Instead, it feels like the team is in a holding pattern, not sure where to go.


The truth is, whoever Red Bull hired would be the Lon Hammond to Marsch’s Noah Calhoun.  When Marsch came into the club, he leaped onto the ferris wheel of our hearts, making us give him a chance.  Not only did we give him a chance, we fell in love and did stuff like ate ice cream and called each other birds.

And when Jesse made it to three years, it looked like we finally found someone who really wanted to be with us.

youandmeforever

But here we are: an Allie Hamilton without a choice.  It’s not as if Lon is a jerk.  Lon’s a good guy and we love him.  It’s just that there’s something about him right now that’s trying to prove he’s just as good as Noah.  And it’s hard to tell if that feeling is coming from him or from us.
lonring

Last night’s match against LAFC was another example of the no-win situation for Armas right now.  While the team won 2-1 with a brace from Daniel Royer, the team felt stuck between the playing styles of Marsch and Armas.

I think this comes from two things: (1) Armas wanting to put his own stamp on the Red Bull system and (2) unresolved playing issues from Marsch’s time.

Once again, Armas had the starting eleven slow down the press.  When asked about it, he said it was to increase possession, which may have worked against DC United and Ben Olsen, but last night showed why you don’t slow down against Bob Bradley.  LAFC had a higher possession rate and a slightly better passing accuracy.  If not for every Red Bull swarming players to force a turnover, LAFC would have scored in the first half.

The second half saw a quicker pace from the Red Bulls, even though LAFC still managed more possession of the ball.  The fast rate of play allowed RBNY to force more turnovers and stay mostly on the opposing team’s side of the field.  Their passing rate in the attacking half and final third left LAFC in the rearview mirror.

There were still big signs of where the team needs to improve.  The Red Bulls have a good backline, with a strong central back pairing, yet they are still the team’s weak link.  The lone LAFC goal wasn’t some unavoidable wonder goal.  Diego Rossi was being marked by Michael Murillo, who was doing everything he could to prevent the player from reaching the ball.  The other three defenders, especially Tim Parker, did little to cover the gap between Carlos Vela and the 18-yard box.  Instead of keeping Adama Diomande between himself and Aaron Long, Parker stayed on Dio’s left rather than switching to his right.  The switch would have allowed Murillo to hang back behind Rossi with a potential offside call.

Now, I know I’m not a professional head coach of a Major League Soccer team — I’m not even a simple, country lawyer — it’s just that I can’t help feeling these defensive errors need to be addressed more than the rate of possession.

In the end, the team won because they’re so darn efficient when they have the ball.  Royer’s first-half goal actually was one of those wonder goals that come out of nowhere.  Kaku crossed the ball to an empty patch of field where Murillo hustled to meet and kick it at goal, only to have it deflect off the keeper and onto the right foot of Royer as he was laying on the grass.  That was well-prepared timing and dumb luck.

Royer’s second goal was something a bit more rehearsed.  A ball kicked from the back to Bradley Wright-Phillips in the attacking third found him onside.  LAFC, thinking he would take the shot on goal, rushed to get themselves between him and the net.  BWP instead arced the ball over the grass to Royer who was able to knock the ball in past a diving Tyler Miller.

Armas made good substitutions, keeping two of them like-for-like with the third, Connor Lade for Kaku, building the defense to keep the winning scoreline.  Derrick Etienne, Jr., however, continued to struggle on the ball and seems to be having trouble finding a stable footing in the squad.


It’s not easy to go from employee to boss, but I think Chris Armas is starting to become comfortable in his new role.  The team also seems to be responding well to his leadership.  And the fans always expected and supported him as the new head coach.  It’ll be interesting to see if it’s enough to bump the team into the playoffs.

Featured image: @NewYorkRedBulls

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New York Red Bulls Over the Rainbow

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, July 14th: 3-2 Win

After what seems like entirely too long, the New York Red Bulls (11-5-2, 35 points) returned to Red Bull Arena. They welcomed Sporting Kansas City (9-5-6, 33 points) for a rematch of the 2017 Open Cup final. The Red Bulls haven’t defeated SKC since 2014.

THE REAL VIKING ARMY: I had promised the members of the Red Bulls Supporter Group the Viking Army that I would stop by and crash their tailgate at some point. So I made my way to the back end of the vacant warehouse on the gentrification chopping block to where their tailgate party is held.

I snapped some pictures and learned some stories.  They talked about jerseys of players traded and gone. They spoke of the moment they fell in love with the team and the passion of a supporter’s group that stands and sings for ninety minutes plus. They shared the sense of family that makes their gatherings on and between game days so special.

LOVE WINS: Does anyone know why the Red Bulls’ Pride Night is in July? Just kidding– I don’t care. They do it right. The rainbow lasers are straight fire. The scarves and running sleeves they gave away are great. And it’s never a bad time to remind everyone that anyone can play.  There was a discussion panel about supporting all athletes prior to the game, and in a time where it is still difficult for people to be themselves, we do need the reminder.

EVENLY MATCHED: Of course Bradley Wright-Phillips scores the opening goal (5′). He’ll hit 100 goals as a Red Bull very soon. But he was called offside. (Drink every time you read ‘Enter VAR’ in my article… or better yet, don’t.) The Red Bulls’ signature High Press tactic often catches an attacker offside, but that wasn’t actually the case here, and the Video Assistant Referee corrected the call. “Goals after VAR, it’s annoying, you don’t get to celebrate,” BWP lamented after the game.

And celebrate, the team could not. Johnny Russell (8′) leveled the match and both sides held each other at bay the rest of the first half. Then Roger Espinoza practically started off the second half getting SKC the lead (51′). Something had to change for the Red Bulls to not let history repeat.

RBNY IS FOR THE CHILDREN: Battling back from injury and fighting for minutes, RB Salzburg exchange student Marc Rzatkowski was subbed in for “Kaku” Romero-Gamarra in the 60th minute. Fans, knowing what Kaku is capable of, were surprised by the move from newly promoted head coach Chris Armas. After the match, Armas explained:

“Marc, he had a great week of training. In every session, he brought energy… Going into the game we thought that he would be a guy we’d rely on in some capacity.”

And boy, did he seize the day! He tallied a brace that leveled and then put RBNY ahead (72′ & 79′). He was named man of the match, and took home the game ball. And yet…

I was part of the huddle of reporters who went to RZA (so nicknamed by fans as a reference to a member of NY hip-hop group Wu Tang Clan) in the locker room after the game. Usually, Rzatkowski ducks out of the locker room as soon as he’s changed while we speak with captain Luis Robles or BWP. He had turned towards his locker to get something and looked genuinely shocked when he turned back around and saw us all there. A real team player, he shared credit with Tyler Adams and Sean Davis, the midfielders who assisted his goals.

(If you don’t catch the reference in the heading, click here)

So: same time, same place, same chance for revenge when the New England Revolution come to Harrison and face RBNY for the second time this season.

Featured image: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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