A week that began for the New York Red Bulls with rumors that Thierry Henry would soon be pushing Chris Armas out as the team’s coach ended with a fifth consecutive match without a win, as the 2018 Supporters Shield winners fell 1-0 to a New England Revolution side that is no one’s idea of a contender.
Rumors and uncertainty swirl for NYRB
Last week, Sky Sports reported that Herny, the former Arsenal and New York Red Bulls superstar, was in negotiations with Red Bull for a job someplace within the sprawling organization, and that his most likely landing spot was in Armas’ place on the corporate depth chart. While unconfirmed, those rumors hover over NYRB during this unexpected run of poor form.
Still, the Red Bulls players might have been expected to back their coach by putting on a performance that said to management – “ we’ve got this.” Instead, this looked like a team that missed its creative fulcrum, Kaku, who missed this match on a red card suspension stemming from last week’s incident when he fired a shot into the stands, striking a fan.
The Red Bulls will likely have to do without Kaku for an extended period once the league’s disciplinary committee hands down its punishment in the coming week.
As for Armas’ job security, seven games does not a season make but with attendance problems becoming an issue at the scaled down Red Bull Arena, it is worth considering when “it’s still early” becomes it is “it’s too late,” for the Red Bulls. They now find themselves in last place tie on points with Atlanta United and NYCFC in the conference with a record of one win, four losses, and two draws.
A wasted chance for momentum
Saturday night in New England seemed like an ideal time and place for the struggling Red Bulls to steal a road win, particularly against a Revolution side with problems of its own.
Brad Friedel’s side came into Saturday’s match at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, having lost three on the trot, while conceding 12 goals and scoring just five for a dismal -7 goal differential on the season.
Friedel coached New England to an eight place finish last year in his first season behind the Revs bench, finishing nine points off of the final playoff position in the East. The USMNT icon has had troubles of his own in 2019. It remains to be seen if Friedel made the right call in late March when he threw his players, indeed the league’s players, under the bus by saying:
“The mentality of a player in this league, a lot of players, when they lose, it doesn’t hurt enough. There’s not relegation, they don’t get fined, they don’t have fans waiting by their cars, they don’t have people beating them up. They don’t have the pressure they have in other leagues.”
With a long playing career in the English Premier League behind him, Friedel’s remarks hold weight. However, coming from a second year coach with a thin resume, Friedel’s comments can be taken as a cop out from a coach having trouble motivating his players.
With that backdrop, neither side was likely to be overly concerned with anything other than emerging with as many points as possible on what was a dismal night in Foxborough. The home side claimed all three available points on a 73rd minute strike from substitute forward Cristian Penilla.
Sent in on goal by fellow sub Juan Fernando Caicedo, Penilla’s angled shot traveled under the gloves and through the legs of Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles, a rare miscue for the Red Bulls captain.
Despite a five to two advantage in shots on goal, the Red Bulls really only had two legitimate scoring opportunities on the night. The first came on a fine bit of trickery from midfielder Marc Rzatkowski in the 39th minute. Rzatkowski deftly controlled a cross from Vincent Bezecourt, showing off his juggling prowess before powering a left footed shot that Cody Cropper did well to save.
Bradley Wright-Phillips had a chance to end his scoring drought in the 50th minute, but with Cropper off his line and out of the play, BWP’s shot was blocked by Revs defender Michael Mancienne.
New England faces a quick turnaround with a home game on Wednesday against the Montreal Impact, who are coming off of a 3-0 shellacking at Philadelphia. NYRB take on FC Cincinnati at Red Bull Arena next Saturday, the first fixture of a three game home stand that may have a lot to say about the remainder of the Red Bulls season.
It will also be interesting to see how oddsmakers now view the Red Bulls. Cincinnati is coming off an embarrassing 0-3 home loss to Real Salt Lake. With two wins though, Cincinnati sit ahead of NYRB in the table. Will FanDuel Sportsbook NJ install New York as a favorite despite the struggles? Look for the MLS Odds later this week.