On Saturday, the New York Red Bulls left Orlando SC with a 2-0 away victory over Orlando City SC. The Red Bulls showed they can grind out a result, and their defensive unit stood strong for during the tough encounter. With five wins from their last six outings, the Red Bulls are asserting themselves, and are building a platform for the remainder of the season.
Sacha Klještan scored a beautiful goal in the 21st minute for his third strike of the season. Cutting in from the top of the box, Klještan powerfully placed his shot into the top right corner of the goal. Klještan needed the goal to help his confidence in his first season in the Red Bulls midfield.
Orlando lost their striker, Cyle Larin, to an unjust red card in the 32nd minute. The commentators did not think it was a foul, and personally I think a free kick or yellow card would have sufficed. Nevertheless, the Red Bulls benefitted from the decision, which provided them with an hour-long power play.
Despite playing the remainder of the game with a man advantage, the Red Bulls could not extend their lead. Orlando went close either side of halftime with well-struck free kicks that Luis Robles did well to keep out. Robles dealt with everything Orlando sent his way, and deserved his shutout.
Mike Grella put the cherry on top with a beautiful solo effort in second half stoppage time. After overcoming challenges from two Orlando players, Grella charged towards the goal and struck low across the goalkeeper’s six-yard box. Grella earned the goal after a workmanlike performance on a warm Saturday night in Orlando.
The game wasn’t pretty and it emphasized an important aspect of the sport: it doesn’t matter how you win as long as you win. Saturday’s performance was not a flashy one, but it definitely got the job done for the Red Bulls, who sit in third place in the Eastern Conference Standings. The Red Bulls are one point behind the Columbus Crew, and the Red Bulls have two games in hand on the Crew.
On Tuesday night the Red Bulls host the Philadelphia Union in the US Open Cup quarterfinal. The Union have only won one game on their travels all season, but it was at Red Bull Arena for an MLS game. Both teams will be seeking a place in the semifinal and a chance to lift the US Open Cup. After Tuesday’s game, the Red Bulls will take a break from domestic fixtures to play Chelsea FC and Benfica in the International Champions Cup.
The mid-season friendlies often distract MLS teams, but the Red Bulls will be hoping they help build confidence even more. The Red Bulls are in great shape at this point in the season and things are starting to click in all areas of the field. Players are starting to fill voids left behind by Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, and the team is winning difficult games. The recent run of results could be the perfect foundation for a strong finish to the season for the New York Red Bulls.