Former Seeing Red Daily subscribers will recognize the Stop, Start, Continue (SSC) review format. Mark will continue writing the column here during the 2018 season.
The Red Bulls were better than Olimpia over the two legs of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 tie, not only outscoring the Honduran club 3-1, but bossing both games, eventually proving their fitness, and managing their opponents’ pressure. The stakes get higher and the opposition better in the Quarterfinals. What does New York need start, stop, and continue in order to advance to the CCL Semis for the first time in club history?
Feeling comfortable with the impending Felipe trade
Martins has been an iron man for the Red Bulls during his time with the club, missing only two regular season matches over the last three campaigns. However, New York desperately needs centerback depth, with Collin’s durability a question mark and neither Redding, Politz, or Ndam ready to step in on a regular basis. However, the play of Rzatkowski last night was a revelation. If he and Adams can lock down the defensive midfield, the Felipe for Vancouver CB Tim Parker trade makes a ton of sense.
Being concerned about Murillo
Amir had a difficult match last night. While he was given a tough assignment facing Olimpia’s star, Michael Chirinos, the Panamanian international was often out-of-sync with his teammates. Murillo was cut out frequently by the Olimpia attack, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on Aurelien Collin. Moving forward, Murillo had trouble linking with Alex Muyl. While Muriilo was more effective in New York’s five-man defensive formation, Jesse Marsch needs sharper play from his wingbacks.
Wondering about the size of New York’s hard-core fan base
It’s small. Smaller than some would like to admit. Of the announced 9,000 plus in attendance at Red Bull Arena last night, I’d estimate that only thirty to forty percent were there to support the home side. Yes, we’re taking about a rainy weeknight match in March, but New York fans were frequently drowned out by the full-voiced Olimpia supporters. Given that Tijuana’s a relatively new team, I’m unsure that the ratio will be the same on the 13th for the quarterfinals home leg. However, last night Red Bulls fans showed their ambivalence toward what should be an exciting team to watch this year.
Shooting the ball
Last year’s Red Bulls often suffered from waiting for the perfect shot before going at goal. Last night’s first half saw a number of near-chances and almost-shots, but never a true good blast on frame. BWP’s laser notwithstanding, Red Bulls fans had to be overjoyed with Sean Davis creating some space near the top of the box and simply firing at goal. His deflection off a defender effectively ended the tie. With the high press creating opportunities, New York mustn’t wait for the perfect opportunity, but must shoot from all angles and distances. Good things will happen.
Appreciating Aaron Long
The Red Bulls have Long to thank for keeping Olimpia off the board last night. The second-year Red Bull snuffed out numerous attacks, had four clearances and three interceptions. Long also held aging Olimpia scoring legend Carlos Costly without a shot in the second half.