New York Red Bulls defender Andrés Reyes celebrates after scoring a goal against CF Montreal at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, May 20 (Credit: New York Red Bulls)

The New York Red Bulls are on an unbeaten streak in 2023. That’s technically official after Saturday’s 2-1 win over CF Montréal at Red Bull Arena—two wins in the league, three in all competitions, and a draw in the last four games.

Team captain Sean Nealis was more than thrilled after the match.

Speaking to the media, the center back knows his group is moving in a positive direction.

“Yeah, it’s good momentum. Good home victories,” Nealis said.

“Two in a row. I think we want to keep building on it. We have another game against Cincinnati in the Open Cup this week. The guys fought tonight from the start, and I think they’re up for the challenge. It’s a big three points.”

On a rainy night in Harrison, just over 10,000 fans made their way to the arena. Those who attended were treated to something unseen this year.

For the first time this season, the Red Bulls scored two goals in the same half. A monumental task on its own, but doubly so considering it gave them the lead twice. It started with an on-target 23rd-minute corner kick. An RBNY player got underneath the ball and put it on target toward Jonathan Sirois.

A well-placed CFM defender’s face blocked the shot, but Andrés Reyes jumped on the loose ball and slotted it in.

“We’ve been working toward it since preseason, and now we’re finally coming through, and we can do it,” Reyes said of his team’s ability to succeed on set pieces.

For Lesesne, the early success was indicative of just how different this game was to the last time these teams met.

The previous meeting in Canada a few weeks ago saw New York get shut out by a 2-0 scoreline.

“The Montreal match away; we started off the match very well,” Coach Lesesne said.

“The first 20 minutes was some of our best pressing (and) transition moments. But we just didn’t capitalize. In this game, I think we showed good pressing moments, good transition moments, and probably could be a little better in the final pass. I think the difference you see here is that it’s more of a complete match.”


Still, that pressing from the northern neighbors continued. In the 29th minute, a free kick saw Montreal kick into the box. George Campbell headed the ball towards the right post, where Joel Waterman jumped up to redirect in the tying goal.

The biggest moment of the match came in the 38th minute. A series of quick passes on a counter-attack saw New York work around the CFM midfield. Eventually, a deflected pass found Cristian Cásseres Jr. near the top of the box. He played the ball forward to Cory Burke, who played the ball around a diving Sirois. His shot lacked power but was redirected in by a Montreal player to give New York the lead once again.

A raised flag by the linesman led to a VAR check, which fell in favor of RBNY in the first minute of stoppage.

For a team that hadn’t been having referee calls go their way this season, Lesesne said it felt good to get one back.

“Yeah, it feels — it’s great,” the coach said. “We have been on the other side of it. And some of that is — you know, I tried to say this maybe a week ago, but we have to figure out ways to create our own luck, right, and not just blame it on decisions. So, I think we were knocking on the door, and we were creating chances, and luckily we got the right call in our favor.”

In essence, Saturday was technically the best of New York Red Bulls’ soccer. Holding the visitors to five shots (three on target) guided Carlos Coronel to another clean sheet. The defense was steadfast, only allowing three corners and never giving Montreal a consistent lane to attack. Meanwhile, the offense still looked shaky but produced. Burke had multiple chances to add a second goal to his tally but scuffed most of them.

Still, the team had impressive passing plays deep in opposing territory. On two separate occasions, RBNY had a quick line of passes, with the final player seeming destined for a shot on target. However, a missed kick and a defensive effort stopped both, respectively.

No, instead, the most significant moment of the second half came with the return of Dante Vanzeir. The Belgian striker had been serving a six-game league suspension for an incident last month. His entrance in the 67th minute saw mostly cheers from the small crowd. However, a few boos could be heard over the group. It remains to be seen how long this conflicted state lingers.

The team’s run of short rest continues this week. On Tuesday, FC Cincinnati comes to Harrison for the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match. Matt Miazga and company look to repeat the success they had in last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs. The visitors won that match, 1-0, to end RBNY’s season. After that, New York hits the road to play Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday on the west coast.

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