New York Red Bulls' midfielder Emil Forsberg battles an FC Dallas player at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, March 9, 2024 (Credit: Associated Press)
New York Red Bulls’ midfielder Emil Forsberg battles an FC Dallas player at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, March 9, 2024 (Credit: Associated Press)

The New York Red Bulls overcame a soggy pitch and heavy rain in Saturday’s home opener. In front of 19,000 fans at Red Bull Arena, New York beat FC Dallas, 2-1. Goals from Emil Forsberg and Lewis Morgan allowed the team to keep its fast start to 2024 going.

Forsberg, who scored his first goal as a member of RBNY in the first half, thanked the fans for their support.

“First of all, a big thanks for the fans who came out, amazing,” said Forsberg. “It was not an easy weather day today; it was really hell, but they were there supporting us so for us as well to win in front of them to give them a win. That was very important for us. So, I’m happy and proud of the team. I’m proud of the fans. And I think we all have a good feeling right now. We just have to keep moving, be humble, and keep working.”

The Swedish international, New York’s biggest signing of the offseason, opened his account thanks to a first half penalty kick. Morgan was brought down in the penalty box by Dallas’ Ema Twumasi to earn the PK. After holding the ball for a few moments, he handed it off to Forsberg. The national team striker shot low and to the left, past a diving Maarten Paes, to make it 1-0.

“I think I saved it for home,” Forsberg joked with the media after the game. “It’s better to score in front of our fans. So it felt good, amazing feeling, to score the first goal. A good feeling, a little bit of a stone releasing from my shoulders.”

In his first two games this season, Forsberg has come close to notching that first tally. He’d previously had multiple shots off the crossbar in the scoreless draw against Nashville.

After getting “the stones” from his shoulders, Forsberg returned the favor to Morgan for setting him up. A counter-attack in the 59th minute saw Elias Manoel quickly redirect a pass to a running Forsberg. He passed up to Morgan at the top of the box, who one touched the ball into the left corner of the net.

For Morgan, it was his second goal in has many games and came in his first start of the season. Spending the offseason undergoing hip surgery and recovering, Morgan noted he still isn’t at full strength.

“It’s always good to get goals and help the team,” Morgan said. “Obviously, I’m lacking a little bit of my fitness. But yeah, it’s always good. Conditions were tough. So naturally, I think I’ve still got a little bit of a step to go in terms of fitness, but I feel good, the body feels good.”

When asked about his counterpart on the night, Forsberg couldn’t help but praise Morgan’s resilience and ability.

“I think Lewis (is a) quality striker/number 10. He has fantastic runs,” he explained. “For me to find him, it’s always easy… He’s a very important player for us and is going to be that for this year.”

On the whole, it’s difficult to judge the match from a Red Bull perspective. The team outshot Dallas both overall and in shots on target. Going into halftime, the visitors had no shots against Carlos Coronel.

The second half was a different story as Dallas began to hold the ball more. When Jesus Ferreira scored an, albeit very good goal in the 59th minute, the tone changed. A free kick just outside of the box on the left side allowed the player to curl a shot in. The ball sailed over the wall and passed a diving Coronel to make it 2-1.

Despite bringing in substitutes like Corey Burke and Cameron Harper to bolster the offense, the team allowed Dallas back into the game. In the 88th minute, the visitors nearly drew level on a header from Petar Musa. Winger Paul Arriola on the right side played the ball into the penalty area, where Musa got a clean header on it. Coronel was able to save this though.

“The second half, the last 15, 20 minutes, we were too passive,” Head coach Sandro Schwarz said afterward. “We didn’t control the game and made so many mistakes, and also, you lose with the ball. Then you lose a little confidence.”

Despite this, New York is sitting on seven points after three games. The record of two wins and a draw is the team’s best start to a season in at least four years. The team will be challenged to keep this up as it goes on the road next weekend. The Red Bulls head to Ohio to face defending MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew at Field.

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