The New York Red Bulls lately have had a true flare for the dramatic. Once again they left it late and found a goal from someone not considered a striker; this time it was the man with the magical mullet, Aaron Long. With his game winner Long broke Steve Jolley’s record for goals by a defender in the club’s history.
Aaron Long and Tim Parker Finding Their Top Form
It hasn’t been the easiest year for either center-back. Tim Parker started the season and the restart in very poor form but after returning from the MLS is Back tournament his game started to turn the corner. Now it is clear that he is really peaking and it couldn’t come at a better time as the Red Bulls enter the final leg of the season. Per Stats Zone Parker won all 4 of his aerial duels, made 2 interceptions, 9 ball recoveries and completed 72% of his passes, with 21 of those going forwards, against New England.
Similarly, Aaron Long, who has struggled with some injuries this season, put in one of his best shifts all year. Per Stats Zone he had 3 blocks, 4 ball recoveries, was 2 to 4 on aerial duels and, of course, had the game winner. When asked about the center-back pair, Bradley Carnell had this to say:
“They help each other they helped the team. You know the solidify a group and they are pushed by Amro Tarek and Sean Nealis. They know that they can’t take their foot off the gas pedal and they have to bring it every single week.”
The line of confrontation adjusts based on the match–up
This game the New York Red Bulls went away from the 2 striker formation they started in against Chicago Fire. The reason for this was to account for New England’s midfield looking to play and having center midfielder drop deeper and set up in pockets between the lines. New England are a team that can play multiple ways and with Teal Bunbury out of the line-up they didn’t play as direct. For Carnell it was about where are the pickup points for the press and where the team felt they needed extra numbers to cover against a team looking to play in those pockets between the lines.
Overall, Carnell didn’t feel like much could be taken from the first half in what he describes as ‘very disappointing’.
“The first half for me, very very disappointing, we are playing like a shadow of ourselves. So it wasn’t exactly the spectacle that we were hoping for and the ignition that we wanted from the start.”Bradley Carnell on the New York Red Bulls’ first-half showing.
Samuel Tetteh Showing Glimpses of his Potential
Samuel Tetteh came on for Jared Stroud in the 75th minute and positioned himself as a right winger. In that time he looked strong on the ball and provided composure out wide as well as fresh legs to stretch the field and put pressure on New England’s back line, who for most of the game did not have to worry much about runners getting in behind.
It was exactly this type of run that lead to the corner kick that won the game. With Kaku on the ball in the middle, Tetteh made a sharp diagonal out to in run into the space off the back shoulder of the defender. These are the types of runs Kaku loves to reward with his passes in behind the defense. It didn’t get to Tetteh but the run forced the defender to make a play on the ball which resulted in the corner.
It’s easy to write a player like Tetteh off. After all, he is attacker brought in to score and assist goals and he hasn’t done that. However, each game he plays he looks more and more comfortable and closer to getting the breakthrough. A big reason for that is his versatility as he done well as a facilitator linking plays together and his off ball movement has been good.
After the match Bradley Carnell had this to say about the Ghanaian attacker on loan from Red Bull Salzburg when asked about his role and position in the team:
“But him understanding his role, we’ve seen him in training working very well underneath in tight spaces, we’ve seen him out wide and doing some things really well. [Today] we just needed some running behind today when he came on. He offered that at times and as well he put in a big defensive shift as well just understanding the role and knowing what’s required on the day he fully executed that well. He keeps knocking on the door he earned the start last week in Chicago and we’ll keep pushing these guys in the right way and hoping to get them more goal scoring opportunities.”