It was the biggest test of the New York Red Bulls’ season. They were facing the best team in the West (at least according to points), FC Dallas. Dallas had shown a penchant for the implosion, but the Red Bulls have shown a penchant for just losing. They conclusively beat a Kaka-less Orlando City by a score of 3-2, though it was far more lopsided in New York’s favor than what the score suggests.
Against FC Dallas, the lopsided nature was displayed in the 4-0 scoreline. The Red Bulls won the possession war against the most athletic team in MLS by a count of 60% to 40%. They out-shot Dallas 17 to 12. Most importantly, they scored four goals.
None came from Bradley Wright-Phillips, but that’s okay, I don’t think the Jersey-based team is complaining.
The creative leader of the whole thing, yet again, was Sacha Kljestan. Go figure. Against Orlando, Kljestan, who holds down the crucial No. 10 role, created 10 chances all on his own. It was four times what he had been averaging on the season. He managed more touches than anyone else as it was clear that he had no intention of letting another game pass him by.
Against Dallas, Kljestan was second on the team in touches and created five chances on his own, more than anyone else. He had the best pass completion on the Red Bulls roster. No matter where the attack was headed, Kljestan was right in the middle of it.
This Red Bulls turn around was a long time coming. Even given how belated it was, it is safe to say that the Red Bulls turned the corner and have reinserted themselves into the playoff conversation.
These past two matches have been completely dominated by the front four. Wright-Phillips recently got off the snide and while he didn’t net against Dallas, the three other attackers continued right where they left off. Mike Grella was right back at it, scoring a goal. Kljestan, Sam and Felipe rounded it all off.
Yet again though, we have to take notice of how little changed aside form the net bulging. While the front four have visibly committed to doing even more than they had been, the general attacking spirit is still fairly similar to where it was all season. It’s just now the final product is there.
Dallas may be prone to the implosion, but this was one of the biggest statement victories of the season. The Red Bulls were completely dominant as the offensive pieces all came together. Central to it all was Sacha Kljestan, who has now created 15 chances in the past two games.