New York Red Bulls Jesse Marsch admits he could have been better
: Nov 6, 2016; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch watches on as time winds down in the game against the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena. Montreal Impact won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls, haunted by failure to fill Dax McCarty’s void via the MLS offseason, drop three games in a row.

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On Sunday night, the New York Red Bulls faced the LA Galaxy. RBNY found themselves home facing a team that only won two games this season. An ideal situation turned disastrous when LA opened up the scoring in the eighth minute. Before all 18,000 plus fans were able to find their seats, New York’s opponents notched a second goal in the ninth minute.

In what used to be a prime match between two DP heavy, star-studded teams barely filled more than half of the stadium. The poor form, near-empty stadium, lackluster supporters section were all too typical of a struggling NY team this season. I will spare my readers of the atrocity that occurred Sunday night and cut to the chase.

How can the New York Red Bulls recover from three straight losses? How can the New York Red Bulls fill the void of Dax McCarty? Can the New York Red Bulls last through the rest of their home stretch?

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Well, let us just be thankful that Major League Soccer (MLS) favors struggling teams. Compared with most other leagues around the world the MLS loves nothing more than an underdog. This is proven in much of the North American sports realm. Playoffs in the NBA, NHL and the NFL all favor the “wildcard” or underperforming teams that miraculously make a strong showing in the playoffs.

Leagues such as the EPL, Bundesliga and Serie A, all top tier leagues do not follow a playoff structure. While the MLS could be said to trail in quality compared to these other leagues, teams like RBNY are allowed to thrive (as much as you could without winning an MLS Cup). RBNY in almost any other league would certainly be ruled out of contention for a championship by now.

For example, the recently crowned EPL Champions Chelsea FC only lost five games in 37 played so far. Fourth place team, Manchester City, only lost six. With still more than half of a season to play, let us be thankful that while recently mediocre, RBNY still have a chance to become MLS Champions.

The New York Red Bulls, if wanting to contend for an MLS title, however, need to start winning. Even if the team does not win, please provide an entertaining game. Nearly twenty minutes left in the game, fans were filtering out of the stadium in utter disappointment. Mainly because the game was over before it started. No home team should go down by two goals in the first ten minutes.

The only medicine for the New York Red Bulls is to win.

How to Return to Winning Ways?

To return to winning form, the New York Red Bulls need to fill the void of Dax McCarty. In January the former RBNY captain was acquired by Chicago for $400,000 in general allocation money. No one can deny that this was a blow to the chemistry of a winning RBNY team. No big deal, trades like these happen all the time right? It is not unheard of for captains to be traded away. RBNY, however, seemed to do minimal damage control after McCarty’s ‘unexpected’ trade.

With three DP spots filled on RBNY (Wright-Phillips, Kljestan, Veron) they found themselves sure that they could handle the loss. BWP is currently RBNY’s top goalscorer with four goals. Kljestan is the team’s assist leader with five. Veron, in contrast, has logged 82 minutes in a total of two games.

After watching Sunday’s game there is no doubt that RBNY need to fill a void in the central midfield. Where McCarty has been strong in the past RBNY are finding it hard to compensate. Advice to Jesse Marsch: Dump Veron and sign a strong central defensive DP midfielder. This will allow Kljestan to play more freely in the attack and support BWP. This is desperately needed since it seemed Kljestan was playing the defensive role.

Look on the Bright Side

The New York Red Bulls on Friday will host Toronto FC. TFC currently are one of the hottest teams in MLS. Altidore, Bradley, Giovinco, and company won six straight. Two of the wins were away. If RBNY keep their current form there will be little pleasure in viewing the game. The only pleasure may be watching former NY players (Altidore and Bradley) put on a clinic against RBNY.

An important point to keep an eye on is watching RBNY face two teams with star-studded DPs. In contrast, RBNY is a team that is struggling to find quality DPs since the Henry and Cahill era. Take notes RBNY front office as the next opportunity to gain a quality DP will approach fast.

With luck and a change of strategy, if RBNY can pull off a win on Friday we can all turn off the panic button for at least one more week.

Chris Sudol is a former college soccer player who now avidly supports the New York Red Bulls, Arsenal, and Barcelona, among many other soccer teams.