No more days remain between now and the start of the season, but I thought I would get you pumped just before with a little insight into how the 2021 Red Bulls season might shape up. A lot of people say it’s not ideal at the moment, but we will take a look at where the deficiencies are and where we see potential for something special.
- Goalkeeper: This, in my opinion, is where the most growth was. Specifically, that growth was through adversity in the form of losing key players at the beginning of the season, First, club legend and captain Luis Robles to Inter Miami via contractual non-renewal, then incumbent Ryan Meara through injury for the first 5 games of the season. Up stepped David Jensen to use his elite abilities to backstop the Red Bulls to points in 4 of those games. Then, back in stepped Meara to us his character and agility to lead the Red Bulls to a bye in the wild card and a conference semifinal finish. I think this position will continue to grow as the season goes on and become an important factor as true tests start to come for this Red Bull team.
- Defense: With the loss of Tim Parker, the defense loses a valuable leader and a local kid, But there is more than enough quality on this team to compete with the best attacks in the league. 2018 MLS Defender of the year Aaron Long with anchor the defense this year. Amro Tarek will most likely slot in next to him with Kyle Duncan on the right and Jason Pendant on the left. Andres Reyes, Andrew Gutman, and Tom Edwards will compete hard for time as all three, in my opinion, are quality player and bring something dynamic to the table.
- Midfield: The focus of the team this year. The captain is here, the game’s wonder kid is here, the current player with the most goals scored for the club and perhaps the team’s top scorer is here. The most determined player on the team is here. Who isn’t here? The most vital part of that midfield: The playmaker. The Red Bulls lost Kaku in controversial circumstances to Al-Taawoun in Saudi Arabia. However, with the leadership of Sean Davis, the phenom that is Caden Clark, the goalscoring and mercurial capabilities of Daniel Royer, the determination and all around ability of Florian Valot and the versatility and capabilities that earned the 2019 Red Bull Defensive Player of The Year of Cristian Casseres, Jr., there is a reason why that focus is there.
- Forward: This position doesn’t seem to have a definitive guy starting, but they will all be big, hardworking and determined. Fabio brings the Brazilian flair to the Red Bulls front line while Tom Barlow and Brian White and earned theirs as both a tandem and lone strikers. All three will be tested to prove their worth as the season wears on.
The big test will be the first six games of the season. Those games are last year’s Western Conference top seed SKC (tonight), LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire, the top two seeds last year in Toronto FC and Supporter’s Shield winners Philadelphia Union, and last year’s Eastern Conference finalists New England Revolution. The best way to go about this, in my opinion, will be for the Red Bulls to be ready every for game and be ready to match styles and prove their the better.
This team is a quality team, and we have been so close on a number of occasions to show it with 3 Supporter’s Shields in 6 years. But the last two seasons, if honesty serves, have seen a dip in both regulare season form and eventual fortune. However, the Red Bulls, as their motto states, are all in every year and they believe in this group as they look to embark on a new season ripe with opportunity for players and club to prove themselves.