There was a statement made tonight at Red Bull Arena. New York played its best game of the season by far snapping a two-game losing streak while remaining unbeaten at home. As a team, they bought in fully while performing with an urgency we have not seen previously in 2017.
The result: A shutout their Eastern Conference rival D.C. United, 2-0.
This was far from easy, especially against a rival like D.C. “You don’t want to lose to these teams,” said Bradley Wright-Phillips who got on the score-sheet tonight.
But unlike the Orlando game, this time the hard work equated with tangible results. The spark came from an most unlikely source which if told in a storybook would be called “The Miracle of Muyl.” The star of this story, Alex Muyl would break the scoreless tie starting the second half after just missing on opportunity in the first half due to a wet and slippery ball. But he refused to regress and continued to go for it. “We’re ready to risk things and not be afraid,” Muyl said. “Still working on it and still a process.”
This opened the floodgates as the attack took form. The Red Bull alpha scoring male, Bradley Wright-Phillips finally found the back of the net in the home environment. He took the pass from Felipe but seemed to hesitate but quickly righted himself making it 2-0 and essentially sealing the contest. “I was going to cross it and I realized where I was in the box,” Wright-Phillips said, “I took my time to settle it and hit it low and hard.”
This was a symbol of the commitment the forwards had come to take personal account of after two average weeks. “The first four have to look at themselves,” Wright-Phillips said, “We had a couple weeks where we had to ask ourselves are we playing good enough and we wasn’t.”
The defense has been the consistent part of this squad but tonight the veteran Aurelien Collin and the youngsters took it up a notch by sacrificing their bodies when tactics failed in front of Luis Robles. Robles still made his share of excellent saves but in the normal flow of play often times than not. The communication on the field was non-stop with players reminding each other and cheering each other on.
The improvement of the younger set has been noticed by the veterans who have demanded a high level of them. “Whether its Tyler (Adams) or (Aaron) Long who played well. We forget that Kemar (Lawrence) is in his 20’s,” Robles said, “The last two games they had great performances. We made it clear it’s what we expect of them. When they play well it’s not a surprise.”
The Red Bulls are now back at .500 with a 3-3-1 mark with two more games to go in this homestand. They have appeared to turn a corner but they still have a long way to go. But this is a start.
Luis Vazquez (@Cyberj2000)