There are as many ways to describe a draw as there are to explain the reasons of why one didn’t win. Jesse Marsch has at least three reasons which were brought to light after the New York Red Bulls scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake. They revolved around the topics of yellow cards, confidence and national team intrusions on the club.
“We had plenty of chances to get a goal, to get a win,” Red Bull Head coach Jesse Marsch said.
The Red Bulls have pulled out all stops to make their game flexible and attractive, one that “entertains” and draws fans. The 16,213 fans were witness to bully tactics which slow the beautiful game that they would like to display if teams followed the rules. Three yellow cards within five minutes is a case in point.
“Teams are making the decision to not allow us to not play.” The finger was certainly aimed at MLS on this. This was backed by the players though to a man they also pointed out that they would have to find ways to prevail.
“If we didn’t create any chances we could say losing Sacha was missed,” Bradley Wright-Phillips said, “But today I felt we had enough, not clear cut but we had our chances.”
The second problem is themselves. Jesse Marsch voiced that his team suffers from a lack of confidence to let it fly when opening games. The feeling from Marsch was that a 90-minute performance would have seen them win at least six specific matches.
“One of the things I’m challenging them is that we look like two different teams in first and second half,” Marsch said, “At halftime I’m trying to encourage them to get themselves going. On the first whistle of the second half they show more urgency, more belief and they come out looking more like us.”
This evening the offense was slow to ignite until the Red Bulls saw Fredrik Gulbrandsen, roar into action. He showed pace and precision from his left-footed game. He had breakaways and penetrations, the best one being a run across the box where he was tripped slightly before righting himself and launching a laser that required a world-class fingertip stretch deflection from Matt VanOekel.
Tyler Adams was mighty active on both ends and was the most consistent force on both ends tonight with the most touches and a high pass percentage. “Passing is important to us,” Adams said, “But pressing, counter-pressing, and picking off second balls, and moving quickly to stride forward is as important. It’s not really a problem for me.”
He added, “I’m a small player but I pick up scrappy balls, scrappy plays, that’s what I do.” And Marsch loves all those qualities which justified his start over Sean Davis. “Tyler is tenacious in there, he’s aggressive, he’s confident on the ball, he wins his duels,” Marsch said, “He’s fast in there, he covers ground, pressures well and breaks up plays.”
This reinforced a defense which despite two new additions continues to perform excellently, particularly Connor Wade, which symbolized the team effort it took to hide the loss of captain Sacha Kljestan, who was on national team duty.
“For sixty minutes he was pretty much our best player,” Marsch said, “His energy and will is so big. He will always to judged for his size but he will never get judged for his heart.”
Along with solid play from Damien Perrinelle and Kemar Lawrence the defense has become everything for a team that is having trouble scoring at this early stage. “I feel we are so much harder to score against,” Wright-Phillips added, “The defense has been the best part of our team. We have something to fall back on.”
Being one of only six teams to be shorthanded by the national team schedule, it has served as an irritant for the Red Bulls who have found it difficult to gain consistency from an unconsistent lineup drained by national team callups and injuries.
“I don’t like it, I don’t understand it. These are things you have to ask the League, there are often things that I don’t quite get. I’d rather both teams have their full complement of players,” Marsch said.
Fortunately for New York, Luis Robles was not called and he was the dependable rock in goal, wearing the captain’s armband and showing why he is more trustworthy than most banks, and he left with a clean ledger sheet.
“We got a shutout and a point, we just have to continue to work,” Robles said, “There are a lot of quality players on this roster and now it’s about putting the right guys in the right spots.”