The New York Red Bulls win over Nashville SC, 2-0, on Friday night might be a turning point for the young season. Not to say that the team is suddenly better and going to charge up the standings. But rather it might be a starting point to see how the roster shakes out over the next month or so.
New York and it’s players started slow but eventually overwhelmed the previously unbeaten Nashville (2-5-0 coming into the game). Frankie Amaya was critical in the midfield and was very precise with his passing and play set-ups. Fábio, fresh off having his loan extended to the end of the season, made his first goal in red & black the game winner late in the first half. Adding onto it was a full field performance by Kyle Duncan, gritty work by Andrés Reyes, and multiple great saves by Carlos Coronel to preserve the clean sheet.
Afterwards head coach Gerhard Struber told media it was a “massive win” as his team continues to try new formations and player positions, including the deployment of Tom Edwards as a center back for the first time this season.
The South Ward was bumping, fans were excited to be back after the FIFA International break, and overall it should be remembered as a successful night in Harrison.
The interesting point comes with the news that dropped prior to Friday’s match. Ahead of next month’s Gold Cup, the U.S. Men’s National team named it’s 60-man provisional roster with Amaya, Duncan, and Caden Clark and making the list. Now while it’s very unlikely, dare say probably impossible, that all three players get called up, losing even one for just over a month is a possibility.
The Nashville performance showed just how much those three players bring to the starting XI while also making sure to show they aren’t the whole team. Clark currently leads New York in goals scored but Friday it was Fábio getting the winning goal, his first after multiple matches where he failed to find the net. On the opposite side of the coin, Duncan proved his worth at both ends and was assisted by Clark on what turned out to be a game sealing goal.
The major takeaway is; would New York have won last night without Clark, Duncan, and/or Amaya?
Struber isn’t afraid to mix up the starting XI but Clark has been a fixture and for good reason. Duncan and Amaya have been both starters and substitutes to varying degrees of success. The rest of the roster is missing a tenth man and someone who can step up and be consistent. Clark is the closest there is to that currently and not even his four goals allow him to fully fit into those shoes. If he and his group of young stars are at risk of leaving, New York needs to be sure they can succeed without them.
Regardless, the Red Bulls next challenge is a three game road stint starting with it’s second match at Foxboro this season against the New England Revolution on Wednesday. So far the team has yet to earn points as a visiting team, letting in three goals in two of their previous away fixtures.