AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Nick Hawkins reports on the MLS match between the New York Red Bulls and the Montreal Impact from the press box at Red Bull Arena.
Earlier today Atlanta United drew 1-1 with Orlando City, and this slight slip up from Tata Martino’s team gives the Red Bulls an opportunity to jump past Atlanta to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings with three points tonight. The Red Bulls will certainly be confident going into this match since they have outscored opponents 11-3 in their past three MLS matches, all of which were wins. As for the Impact, they’ve lost 3 of their last 5 matches and are currently occupying the 9th position in the Eastern Conference table, although they have two games in hand over the 8th-placed Philadelphia Union.
23′ Daniel Royer (p)
58′ Michael Murillo
85′ Bradley Wright-Phillips (A: Alex Muyl)
90′ Daniel Royer (A: Derrick Etienne)
The Red Bulls have been operating with a back 3 since their US Open Cup victory against the Revolution on July 13th, and they have been reaping the rewards, scoring 11 goals in their three MLS matches leading up to this match. The formation allows Sacha Kljestan to find more space in the middle of the park, it provides solidity at the back, and it is ideal for the wingbacks as well, especially Tyler Adams, who has been bombing up and down the right flank and putting in some eye-opening performances as a part of Jesse Marsch’s system. Today’s back three consisted of Sal Zizzo, Aaron Long, and Michael Murillo.
The first couple minutes of the match were very hectic and the ball was in Montreal’s half for most of the time. The Red Bulls had a golden chance to open the scoring inside the first 30 seconds of the match due to some complacent defending on the part of the Impact but were unable to convert. Another opportunity came shortly after, and a smart save from Maxime Crépeau was required to keep the score goalless. In the 17th minute, there was a huge penalty shout for the Red Bulls as Daniel Royer went down in the box, but the referee deemed the challenge to be a fair one. Despite the heavy initial pressure from the home side, the match eventually started to slow down and even out, although the Red Bulls still enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and opportunities.
In the 23rd minute, the Impact defense switched off again and they paid the price for it. Royer made a run in behind the defense on a throw in, and he was taken down by Crépeau in the exact same position that he was appealing for a penalty from earlier. This time the referee awarded the penalty, and Royer made no mistake from the spot, converting coolly with a cheeky “panenka” penalty. Two minutes later, the Red Bulls should have doubled their lead. Kljestan worked his way into the box with a series of one-two passes, and the Impact’s defense made a mess of the clearance, allowing Kljestan the opportunity to square the ball to Aaron Long at the top of the six-yard-box. But with the keeper out of the net and no one contesting his shot, Long somehow managed to hit a defender on the goal line with his attempt. Montreal forward Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla was in on goal a minute later, but Luis Robles came up with a brilliant save in the 1v1 situation. The goal really opened the game up for both sides, and there easily could have been 3 goals in the span of just five minutes.
All told, the Red Bulls truly dominated the first half. They had flowing attacking moves and penetrated the Montreal defense with ease on multiple occasions. Kljestan was calm and composed on the ball, and he was the one setting the tempo of the match and orchestrating the home side on the attack. Royer looked confident and determined and he got his goal, Wright-Phillips’ hold up and connective play was excellent, Tyler Adams was highly impressive on both sides of the ball, Sal Zizzo, who joined the Red Bulls as a winger, was outstanding at center back, and indeed the whole team looked synchronized and sharp. The Impact were not out of the match yet, though. They will have gone into halftime encouraged by the fact that the score was only 1-0, especially since they had two breakaway chances that could have been converted for goals on another day, or in another half…
Tyler Adams (18) vs Montreal Impact
88% pass accuracy 🎯
44/50 passes completed ✅
5 fouls won 🤕
4 key passes 🔑
Thriving at right-wing back. pic.twitter.com/Q6uW4TUh5v
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) July 30, 2017
The Red Bulls did not let up in the second half, however, and they got their second goal 12 minutes after the break through Michael Murillo. A set piece delivery found Royer in the box, who settled the ball in odd fashion as three Impact defenders failed to face him up or block his path to goal. Royer played it across the face of goal and Murillo could not miss from less than 6 yards out. This prompted a 62nd minute double switch from Mauro Biello in a bid to shake the game up. However, the change did not really affect the match in the Impact’s favor, and if anything the Red Bulls looked more and more likely to score a third. In the 69th minute, Alex Muyl had a golden chance to do just that, but he skied his shot from the top of the box over the crossbar. He was in again one minute later, and he chipped the ball over Crépeau but was denied by the post.
The match started to get a little testy in the closing stages of the second half, and Tyler Adams, who was on the receiving end of several hard tackles, was removed in the 82nd minute after being assessed by the Red Bulls medical staff. In the 86th minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips added the icing to the cake with his 11th goal of the season. Kljestan switched the play with a long ball to the left flank, and Muyl played a low cross into the box. Wright-Phillips timed his run well and threw his body at the ball to tap it home from short range and put the result beyond doubt. In the 90th minute, the Impact collapse continued, and it was the red-hot Royer on the scoresheet again. He was played in on goal by substitute Derrick Etienne and he blasted it inside the near post from an acute angle for his 6th goal in the past 4 matches.
Anyone watching the match will agree that the Red Bulls dominated, and the statistics reflected their stellar performance as well. The Red Bulls enjoyed 68.9% possession in the match, but it was not just possession for possession’s sake. Their passes were penetrative and they were able to create chances fairly easily. They were able to fashion 24 shots throughout the match, as compared to the Impact’s 5, and 17 of the Red Bulls shots came from within the Montreal penalty area. The 4-0 scoreline is a fair reflection of the match.
Daniel Royer was outstanding yet again tonight, and he is without question one of the hottest players in Major League Soccer at the moment. His brace in this match puts his goalscoring tally in the last four games up to six. He was initially frustrated after not being awarded a penalty early in the match, but he responded in the best way possible with an electric performance. He was confident, defiant and determined, and the he looked to really enjoy himself out there with the fans singing his name and his shots finding the back of the net.
Moment of the Match
Although the Red Bulls have one of the best goalscorers in the league in Bradley Wright-Phillips, Daniel Royer has been in incredible form recently, and his first goal today sent the Red Bulls on their way to a comfortable victory. Royer was visibly upset after not being awarded a penalty early in the game, but he earned a penalty shortly afterwards and converted it himself with a defiant chip. He and his trademark backflip celebration lit up Red Bull Arena today, and he is quickly becoming a fan favorite in New York.
In Their Words
“Sacha’s really been a catalyst for our team. He’s just all over the field, putting plays together, clever, smart, it’s been a pleasure to watch him.”
– Jesse Marsch
“[Daniel Royer] is playing great. He’s got so much confidence and clarity around the goal. It’s almost like, if a shot of his doesn’t go in it’s surprising right now.”
– Jesse Marsch
“We were dangerous and aggressive in the attack and compact defensively…We played really well and created a lot of chances, and I think there was no doubt that we were going to win this game.”
– Daniel Royer
“[The 3-back system] puts all of our players in positions where they can be dangerous. Sacha was struggling to get on the ball and now he’s finding space, Sean Davis can turn in areas, Danny Royer can turn in areas and they can get shots off. We weren’t getting nay shots off and now these guys are finding so much space. It has brought out the best in everyone.”
– Bradley Wright-Phillips
“The belief within this locker room has not wavered at all, and we continue to believe that no matter what’s going on six inches in front of us, as long as we continue to work towards that collective and check our egos at the door, we’re able to accomplish something special.”
– Luis Robles
It was never really in any doubt who was going to win this match. The Red Bulls were dominant from the first minute to the last, and they this match will build their already surging confidence up even more. The timing of this great run of form could not be any better, because next up for the Red Bulls is their cross-town rivals, NYCFC. Only two points separate the two sides, and the match will be one of the most important New York derbies to date.
Although the Red Bulls deserve a lot of credit for their impressive attacking play, it must be said that the Impact defense was shambolic in key moments and it was easy for the Red Bulls to create chances. They were leaky and unconvincing when the ball was in their box, and many of the Red Bulls goals looked like they were simply a matter of desire, with the home players wanting the ball more. It was a poor showing from the Impact, and the scoreline reflected the flow of the match.
Written by @nhawkins35