The New York Red Bulls welcomed expansion side FC Cincinnati into Red Bull Arena Saturday night with one objective in mind and one objective only: to collect three points.
NYRB accomplished that goal thanks to a brilliant long-range strike by Mr. Red Bull himself, Connor Lade.
Lade leads new line-up
Often overlooked but always ready to do whatever it takes for the team, Lade started Saturday night at left wingback with Red Bulls boss Chris Armas looking to shake up his moribund team.
Armas ran his side out versus the MLS newcomers in a three-back set with Amro Tarek slotting in alongside fellow center-backs Aaron Long and Tim Parker with Lade and Alex Muyl manning the wingback roles.
Armas wanted to see his team break down a Cincinnati side that he expected to come out “in two banks of four” and thought “with our wingbacks, we could unlock it.” Armas noted that Red Bulls sent in a “bunch of crosses which they defended well.”
With his team coming into the match struggling with a record of 1 win, 4 losses, and 2 ties, Armas was looking for “little ways to spark the team, get them excited for a different formation.”
“So, we’d say it worked,” was Armas’ read. “1-0 for a shutout and a really important win.”
Afterward, Lade found himself in the unaccustomed position of being the center of attention, although the popular 29-year-old was quick to deflect back to the team. “Personally, I would say it’s nice to get the goal but I think that’s secondary on the night.”
“Obviously,” the modest Lade continued, “it’s a huge win for the team. We needed that in the worst way and obviously to get a shutout at home I feel like that’s what we are going to take away from tonight.”
With Bradley Wright-Phillips, the team’s all-time leading goal scorer, missing out with a muscle strain, Lade’s moment of magic was badly needed by a Red Bulls team that has struggled to find the net in 2019.
Lade’s 38th-minute goal was a brilliant effort with BWP’s replacement Brian White heading down smartly to Daniel Royer at the top of the Cincinnati box. Royer’s clever backheel was intelligently ignored by Marc Rzatkowski who left the ball for the onrushing Wade to strike past Cincinnati goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton with a powerful and accurate first time left-footed strike.
The goal was only the second regular-season goal of Lade’s career and although it was a great goal and a thrilling moment for the Red Bulls High Press Soccer wondered if Armas was becoming concerned with just how hard a time his team is having scoring goals, even with BWP in the lineup?
Armas asserted that Lade’s position change to wingback from his usual fullback position put Long in a more attacking position, “so it wasn’t so unexpected.”
Armas did concede that “we want to create more chances and we work hard at that every day.” “There is a lot that goes into creating and scoring goals,” Armas noted, adding that he’s “not concerned because we created chances tonight and our team has always scored goals.”
Sure, just not so much lately. In last year’s Supporters Shield winning season the Red Bulls scored the second most goals in the East, with 62. Atlanta racked up 70 and three teams in the wild west outpaced the Red Bulls, although the well balanced New York side was number one in goal difference.
This season has been a different story, no surprise given the teams place in the standings. And while it is still relatively early the ninth-place Red Bulls have been outscored by seven of their Eastern Conference foes and all but one Western team, Vancouver. Even the winless Colorado Rapids have outscored the Red Bulls, scoring 12 times this season while the Bulls have rung the bell just nine times.
Saturday night’s three points are big but only if they serve to jumpstart a Red Bulls revival and with attendance already hurting some wins, and maybe some goals could only help.
Thank you @NewYorkRedBulls! Great win! – Cant believe more people dont fill this World Class stadium every week to watch a team that is always giving everything!👍 I grew up just blocks from @RedBullArena and would have done anything to attend a game at such an amazing facility. pic.twitter.com/vOngmqNU5F— Tab Ramos (@RamosTab) April 28, 2019