While the 2024 Major League Soccer season is still young, the New York Red Bulls sit atop the table.

That comes after four wins and two draws through seven games, including last weekend’s win over defending Supporter’s Shield champs FC Cincinnati.

While a lot of talk has been on new signing Emil Forsberg, both good and bad, and the returning Lewis Morgan, it has been a team effort. And one consistent member of that team is forward Dante Vanzeir.

In the five games he’s played, all being starts, Vanzeir has looked great playing as either the main striker or a supporting hitter. In fact, at the time of this writing, Vanzeir leads MLS with six assists. While that number is heavily bolstered by a historic four-assist performance against Inter Miami, it’s only one stat line.

Dante Vanzeir
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Under first-year head coach Sandro Schwarz, Vanzeir has grown into a tremendous supporting player in the Red Bulls attack, even with a hamstring injury slowing him down just ahead of the regular season.

This past weekend, Vanzeir played 67 minutes and was the man of the match against Cincinnati. While not seeming intentional, his assist in the 19th minute to Frankie Amaya set up a stellar tying goal. In the second half, Forsberg’s through pass to Vanzeir on a run set up the Belgian to cut across the box against two defenders.

The subsequent game-winning goal was his first of the season and third all-time in MLS.

“I think for a striker, of course, it is important to score, and sometimes it can be difficult to score your first goal,” Vanzeir said after the game.

“Once that goal is in the back of the net, I’m sure that the next ones will follow. I’m a striker, and what they expect from me is scoring goals. That’s my main focus. On the other hand, I just want to help the team as much as possible. If I’m not the guy at the end of the action in front of the goal, then I hope I can set up the action to let somebody else score. Yeah, I’m happy that I could get another assist and the first goal, so it’s, it’s a great start for me for the season. I hope to continue this.”

Vanzeir finished third in Player of the Matchday voting following last weekend for his efforts. Two weeks ago, the Belgian international finished fourth in the vote, with teammate Lewis Morgan securing the top spot with his hat-trick.

League media is starting to recognize the type of player Vanzeir can be under Schwarz. On a team with a potential goal output that could shake the league, RBNY will always be RBNY. Players like Morgan and Forsberg are supposed to be the goal scorers. Omir Fernandez and Frankie Amaya can have offensive bursts and tack on assists. Vanzeir was introduced to Red Bulls fans as the former, but it really feels like his golden role will be as the latter.

Vanzeir has the speed and talent to score goals. Whether it be because of injury or suspension, he hasn’t had the chance to demonstrate that in Harrison. With the team changing around him, I fully believe Vanzeir could become one of the league’s best playmakers and set-up men. Especially if Forsberg comes back from his injury (or personal issues) and gets back into the groove.

Time will tell if Vanzeir can keep up this pace. New York is back in Harrison this weekend, facing Chicago Fire FC. That match will be special, as it will also be New York’s 10th annual Autism Acceptance Match.

“Our home games are our special for me. I think our last two games were amazing at home – Two victories,” Vanzeir said.
“It’s not only because of us; it’s also because of the fans. We had two amazing crowds in the last two home games. So now that we’re at the top of the league for a moment, I think we need them even more to keep pushing us towards the next level, and we can only get better with their support.”

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