Queens, NY – There has been a lot of talk amongst New York Red Bulls supporters regarding the team’s current forward situation. Fans have become increasingly frustrated with Bradley Wright-Phillips and his lack of production up front in recent weeks. The club’s reluctance to splash cash in the transfer market has also left a bad taste in people’s mouth.
The club’s social media accounts teased a “big signing” before the summer transfer window closed, prompting fans to refresh their Twitter feeds every five seconds in hopes of some good news. And then it happened, New York signed a Premier League player on loan for the rest of the season.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) August 22, 2019
Unfortunately, the extremely underwhelming announcement of Josh Sims from Southampton was not exactly what supporters had in mind. The decision not to sign a starting caliber forward could prove costly come playoff time, especially since Sims has yet to feature for RBNY since his arrival due to not receiving his P-1 yet. The club’s other major signing, $2.5 million dollar Danish forward Mathias Jorgensen has made all of five appearances for RBNY this season and has been relegated to RBNY II duties.
The emergence of Brian White – a first round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft – has been a bittersweet pill to swallow for a majority of the fan base. On one hand, his nine goals in 17 appearances this season has kept New York afloat while Wright-Phillips recovered from injury. On the other hand, the club insistence on riding out with White, BWP & Tom Barlow for the rest of the season has people nervous.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) August 21, 2019
I, for one, think that Wright-Phillips is clearly passed his prime – anyone with eyes can see that – and do not believe that White or Barlow will develop into an elite talisman. However, I also do not think that goal scoring is New York’s main problem. In my opinion, RBNY’s lackluster defending and inconsistencies on that side of the ball is actually a bit more troubling.
The Red Bulls made history last season after limiting opponents to an MLS low 33 goals in 2018, with 15 clean sheets to boot. Midway through 2019, New York has already conceded 39 goals with 8 games still remaining on the schedule. RBNY isn’t shutting teams out anymore either, managing only six clean sheets this campaign and half of those have come vs. lowly FC Cincinnati (2) and Orlando City (1).
New York failed to keep their opponents off the scoreboard again this weekend, drawing 1-1 with the New England Revolution after dominating the first 45 minutes. Only to come out flat in the 2nd half and allow Bruce Arena’s Revolution to come into Red Bull Arena and steal a crucial point in the Eastern Conference standings.
Saturday night marked the fifth time that RBNY have failed to win after scoring first in the match. To make matters worse, RBNY have only won once (1-10-3) when conceding two or more goals across all competitions – MLS, CONCACAF & U.S. Open Cup – this season. Their lone victory was a 3-2 victory at home over LA Galaxy in May.
So what has been the main problem for New York this season? I guess it depends on who you ask. It’s like the age-old question, “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”
Except in this scenario, the causality dilemma would be: lack of a consistent goal scorer or too many defensive lapses? I tend to lean toward the latter. However, there may be a simple answer to such a complex question.
There’s a Tyler Adams-sized hole in Chris Armas’ starting XI and a solution is nowhere in sight.
I mean, most clubs aren’t too keen on selling their young, box-to-box midfielders for pennies on the dollar without an adequate replacement on board. Unless of course, you’re the red-headed step child of a global energy drink conglomerate like Red Bull GmBH. But that’s another story, for another day.