Another Orlando City game is almost upon us, which means that the Lions will have another chance to shake off their consistently inconsistent form. This week sees the boys in purple travel up the East Coast to take on the New York Red Bulls.
A trip to Harrison, NJ, means I spoke to Mark Fishkin of the always excellent Seeing Red podcast. Mark was extremely helpful in getting us caught up on a Red Bulls team that has had an eventful first few months of the season.
I know there was a lot of discontent around Gerhard Struber remaining head coach as long as he did. What’s the mood like around the team now that he’s gone?
Mark Fishkin: There was certainly a lot of frustration with Struber’s tactics, results, and lack of action during the Dante Vanzeir incident. In Troy Lesesne’s first six matches, New York has three wins (one in the Cup), two draws and a one-goal loss at Seattle. The mood has been lighter, with Lesesne offering Red Bulls players more freedom in their on-field roles.
How has the team looked since Troy Lesesne has taken the helm? Are there any major differences in the style of play?
MF: While the team’s offensive woes haven’t been completely solved, New York did score twice in the first half of a match for the first time this season in a 2-1 home win against Montreal on May 20. Lesesne’s attack is more varied that Struber’s, with possession up the middle as an avenue for goal creation, rather than relying exclusively on crosses from the wing, and nicking goals off of set pieces. It’s more attractive to watch.
The Red Bulls haven’t given up multiple goals in a game since April 22. What has made the team so stingy on defense?
MF: There are a few reasons for the Red Bulls’ defensive strength: First is the maturation of Andrés Reyes. The Colombian is nearly unbeatable in the air and he partners well with RBNY Captain Sean Nealis in central defense. Second is the leveling up of Homegrown left back John Tolkin. Tolkin has played every minute of the team’s six matches over the last three weeks, is rarely beaten, and has contributed in the attack. Third is the stellar play of New York’s corps of sixes: Christian Casseres Jr., Peter Stroud, Wiki Carmona, and Daniel Edelman. Young Cam Harper has contributed in both directions as well. That’s why New York has only allowed 38 shots over 13 matches, the fewest in MLS.
Are there any players who will be unavailable due to injury, suspension, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
MF: While New York will miss Homegrowns Omir Fernandez and Serge Ngoma, who are out with injury, and Edelman, who is in Argentina with the U.S. U-20 National Team, the Red Bulls finally have 2022 leading scorer Lewis Morgan back from injury for the first time since March. How many minutes he’ll play are to be determined.
The back line could be John Tolkin, Andrés Reyes, Sean Nealis and Cam Harper or Kyle Duncan in from of Carlos Coronel. Injured Frankie Amaya returns from injury as well and could partner with Peter Stroud or Christian Casseres, Jr. at the six. In the attack could be Luquinhas on the right, who is working his way back to full fitness after injury, Dru Yearwood ,or Wiki Carmona at the 10, and hopefully Lewis Morgan on the left. Up top I like Dante Vanzeir and Corey Burke.
Big thanks to Mark for giving us some insight into the Red Bulls. Vamos Orlando!