The New York Red Bulls won a boring game over Orlando City SC last Saturday. John Tolkin’s free-kick made it 1-0 late in the first half.
It was another much-needed three points for RBNY, but it also continued to show the team’s issues.

“We had some problems in the beginning, especially with behavior in half space, but (Orlando City has) also a lot of quality and a lot of good individual players with the ball,” head coach Sandro Schwarz said after the game. “But I am proud that we have this fighting spirit, this mentality, and then a clean sheet for Carlos. It is also very important for us that we can win with one free-kick situation, and it is good to see that. And to have this feeling, to create these moments, yeah, I’m very satisfied today.”

Tolkin breaks the Dull Deadlock

JMi opened the scoring for the home side in the 38th minute. Orlando’s Wilder Cartagena fouled Lewis Morgan just outside the penalty area, sending Tolkin and Emil Forsberg to the ball.

JMi launched the shot from 25 yards out into the top corner to make it 1-0.

This followed up Forsberg’s free kick-opening goal from Wednesday against Charlotte FC.

“We kind of talked about it before it’s about to be taken, and yeah, he got one the other day, and I get one tonight,” Tolkin said.

“(Emil) gave it to me tonight. I think you remember Charlotte from last year. That’s kind of my spot, I guess. But no, it’s great to see Emil’s quality. I see him take them after training and kind of see how he takes them.”

The goal was JMi’s first goal of the season and his first since the critical penalty kick against Nashville SC on Decision Day of last year.

“I thought we controlled a lot of the first half. It’s a tough game with the humidity, obviously,” Tolkin said.

“The second game in the week, and we’re comfortable defending.”

Surprisingly, Orlando City’s offense did very little in the first 45 despite controlling possession. The visitors only had one shot with nothing on target against Carlos Coronel. This was, in large part, due to the team’s midfielders and defense. In particular, Daniel Edelman had one of his better games this year. It won’t jump off the stat sheet, but the midfielder played back and helped negate a lot of Orlando attacks.

New Faces Appear

The second half was uneventful for the most part. Elias Manoel entered the game in the 64th minute and looked as though he doubled the lead late in the half. A stunning long shot from outside the box was nullified due to a Tolkin foul.

One shining moment of the half was the debut of MLS SuperDraft pick Aidan O’Connor. He entered the game in the 75th minute for Noah Eile.

Head coach Sandro Schwarz said afterward the young player had to step up because without Andrés Reyes, the team was without another center back.

“Super happy to make my debut but happier that it can be on a win and in front of the home crowd,” O’Connor said.

“That’s an awesome experience. And with the stadium as full as it was today, makes the experience even better. So, I’m super happy with that.”

Carlos Coronel recorded his third shutout of the season and his 33rd career shutout with New York. He also tallied his 45th career victory with the Red Bulls.

Improvement Needed

In the end, a better Orlando team could have (should have) equalized. Orlando dominated possession, and its offense picked up in the second half, but New York was able to hold them off for the win.

That sort of play isn’t going to get RBNY the points it desperately needs if it wants to stay in the upper half of the Eastern Conference.

New York is set to lose a lot of talent soon for a variety of reasons. Tolkin is set to join the U.S. Olympic Team (Under-23s) ahead of the Paris Olympics. Daniel Edelman isn’t officially called up, but I’d imagine he’s a bubble player if the injury comes up; Cory Burke, Carlos Coronel, and Emil Forsberg will head to their respective national teams for international tournaments.

There’s also the numerous injuries facing New York right now. Ronald Donkor, Roald Mitchell, Serge Ngoma, and Peter Stroud are all out long-term/for the season. Cameron Harper and Andrés Reyes were held off the match day 18 for lingering injuries, too. Team depth is going to be a concern going forward.

A busy June is just beginning for RBNY, with many home games coming up. However, next Saturday, the team will travel to Foxborough to face the bottom-of-the-table New England Revolution.
Then, on June 15, they will return to Harrison to face Nashville SC.

PHOTO: New York Red Bulls

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