It’s been a good week for Orlando City, with the Lions picking up a pair of wins — one of which came on the road. OCSC will look to continue its good run of form when the New York Red Bulls come to town on Sunday.
The Red Bulls have had a good start to the year and sit third in the Eastern Conference, having played one fewer game than Orlando in second. What has New York done well during the first seven matches of the season.
Ben Cork: The Red Bulls have built on the foundations from last season and, save for a perplexing goal drought at home, have improved in all facets of play from 2021. The defensive structure that tied for stingiest in the league last year has kept pace, with only six goals conceded in seven games thus far. At least for the first few weeks of the season, it seemed like the attack had improved to an even greater degree, with Frankie Amaya quarterbacking lopsided wins in San Jose and Vancouver. With the team even adding better possession play when needing to control a game’s tempo, if they could just get a finish or two at home, it would be a dream start to 2022.
Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan were the two big off-season arrivals for NYRB this year. How have they looked so far?
BC: Luquinhas has only recently begun to be involved with extended minutes, but the returns so far are very promising. His potential to be a ball-carrying wizard in transition has almost been outshined by his hard tackling work off the ball.
Meanwhile, Lewis Morgan already feels like a three-year veteran. The Scotsman has alternated between attacking midfield and wingback roles for Gerhard Struber, and his deployment is often a clue to the team’s tactical approach. His speed, two-footedness and incisive technique make him valuable everywhere on the field, and he’s already becoming a key part of the team’s spine.
The Red Bulls and Orlando are in the same boat in that both teams have struggled a bit to put the ball in the back of the net. What’s been hampering NYRB offensively?
BC: It truly is a confounding situation given that the Red Bulls have largely continued to dominate games in both shot numbers and possession, but for whatever reason it’s not translating into clear chances. The finger has been pointed by many at first-choice striker Patryk Klimala, but after the scoreless draw against Dallas last weekend, Gerhard Struber repeated his mantra that his tactics require goal scorers from all different parts of the field. Struber’s teams in Europe often attempted to play an intricate final third passing game that he may be slowly attempting to build in New York. But in the meantime, Struber might want to curtail his tendency to change lineups and formations week to week, limiting chemistry.
Are there any injuries or suspensions that will prevent players from being selected? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
BC: Precocious teen attacking midfielders Caden Clark and Wikelman Carmona are both approaching their returns from short-term injury but immediate outlook on both is unknown. Besides those two, and Andres Reyes recovering from an off-season foot injury, the Red Bulls appear to have a clean-ish bill of health.
Lineup: Carlos Coronel; Aaron Long, Sean Nealis, Tom Edwards; John Tolkin, Lewis Morgan, Frankie Amaya, Dru Yearwood, Luquinhas; Patryk Klimala, Ashley Fletcher.
As for a score prediction? I’m fairly certain the goals will come soon for the Red Bulls, so why not on Sunday? A 3-1 win for New York with Luquinhas, Klimala, and Ashley Fletcher as the scorers.
Big thanks to Ben for the great info on the Red Bulls. Vamos Orlando!