The New York Red Bulls attempted to switch up the format against FC Dallas on Saturday night. Easter Eve saw both Ashley Fletcher and Luquinhas get their first RBNY starts as Gerhard Struber hoped to get his first home win of the season. Instead, despite outshooting the visors 20 to 5, the game ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw.
After the match Struber was adamant he expected a win based on how the group was performing. For 85 minutes the team controlled the game with intensity and that showed through in multiple close calls near the net.
“We invest a lot today. In the end, it’s always for a group a disappointed, a frustration feeling when you invest so much and in the end you stay with one point in the end in the dressing room together,” Struber said. “But this is also sometimes sport and you have to grow up, the resilience one more time to be ready in the next game and that’s it, and work hard between. This is our situation and not much more.”
The removal of Drew Yearwood and Patryk Klimala from the starting XI, most likely due to the upcoming midweek U.S. Open Cup match against Hartford Athletic, meant a different attacking formation. That meant the previously mentioned attackers getting their first starts, but also meant players like Omir Fernandez played up essentially as a third striker.
The Bulls focused their attacks along the right side of the field for most of the game. Lewis Morgan and Fernandez were focal points with the former being a constant source of crosses into the box. Struber’s continued to struggle when it came to finish off those attempts in the final third. Later in the game as Fernandez and Fletcher came out, the introduction of Tom Barlow and Klimala meant a three forward attack for New York. Something which is rarer for Struber’s group.
The only offense FC Dallas had for 85 minutes was thanks to U.S. Men’s National Team star Paul Arreola. The former DC United front man received two long passes in the first 45 minutes that got his team close to Carlos Coronel. But even still the Brazilian keeper had few challenges for a majority of the match. Meanwhile, Struber’s 4-2-3-1 formation saw John Tolkin play high but unused. The full field threat almost felt like decoy for the first half as the game focused on the opposite side of the field. That didn’t mean he was invisible and anytime Morgan crossed the ball into the box the defender’s long blonde hair was a constant as he jumped for the chance on net.
The biggest chance came in the 22nd minute when a loose ball forced Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes out of his net to head away from Luquinha. The ball found its way to Morgan on the right side who chipped the ball over Paes, who was running back toward the net. Defender Matt Hedges headed the ball out from the goal line to keep the game 0-0.
The second half saw tactical changes but Struber only elected to use three subs in two windows. In fact, he only made two subs at the same time because Yearwood hasn’t gone in yet. It would have just been a third sub in a third window anyway. This stands out because his team was offensively pushing but the German native elected not to bring in fresher, if-less experienced legs such as Daniel Edelman or Lucas Monzón. Instead, Fernandez opened the final 45 with a number of close chances.
Dallas found occasional opportunities to counter-attack as time went on. Franco Jara forced a great stop from Carlos Coronel in the 83rd minute which was followed up by a Arriola chance that looked to be a game snatcher. Emotions picked up and yellow cards became more frequent for each team. When the final whistle blew, the chorus of boos from the crowd found a scene on the field as both teams clashed in a shoving pile.
Despite the loss, New York still sit in third place in the Eastern Conference after seven games. Struber and the group face Hartford Athletic of the USL Championship in the U.S. Open Cup this Wednesday night in Hartford, CT.