The New York Red Bulls and Sacha Kljestan sit in fifth place in the East and seventh in Supporter’s Shield race as midseason mark approaches.
New York Red Bulls Current Form:
The New York Red Bulls have had a dramatic start to their season. With 14 games in the books, the MLS is approaching its midseason stretch. Out of 34 regular season games in all, team evaluations at this point are appropriate.
New York Red Bulls First Third Analysis
The New York Red Bulls’s first third of the season has seen excitement, to say the least. Two wins against Atlanta and Colorado in their first two games set the team up fairly well. Unfortunately in four games after their March 11th match, RBNY only pulled away with one point. The games at Orlando and home vs Real Salt Lake illustrated early opportunities that were not capitalized on.
The New York Red Bulls’s fortress at home, fortunately, provided the team with much-needed wins. In a three-game home stretch, RBNY scored six goals and only allowed one. The team picked up wins against D.C., Columbus, and Chicago. However, RBNY’s key win against Dax McCarty’s new club and Bastian Schweinsteiger was their last win before Saturday.
In games 10-12 the New York Red Bulls were outscored by seven goals by their opponents. This, of course, led to no points in that stretch.
The New York Red Bulls recently put a halt to their winless streak. Game 13 against Toronto yielded one point while game 14 against New England yielded three.
As the New York Red Bulls approach their second third stretch of the season the team sits at six wins, two draws, and six losses. Out of 14 games, the team earned 20 points, fifth most in the east.
How is Captain Kljestan?
New York Red Bulls Captain Sacha Kljestan has been critiqued on his form early in the season. Kljestan assumed the captain armband from Dax this season and found himself a big role to fill. Dax’s aggressive, gritty style play in the midfield needed to be replaced. While the New York Red Bulls have experimented with various formations between match one and match 14, Kljestan struggled to repeat his successes of years’ past early this season. This could be primarily attributed to Dax’s absence and the struggle to fill the void.
While Dax’s departure created issues for RBNY, Kljestan is not doing as poorly as some may suggest. Kljestan this season has posted numbers consistent with the two previous seasons. In 2015 he scored eight goals and had 14 assists in 33 games. In 2016 he scored six goals and had 20 assists. If compared, Kljestan is right on track to achieve similar numbers this year. Kljestan, so far, has zero goals and six assists. If his goals pick up and he mirrors his assists for the rest of the season he is looking at 18 assists.
⏩FFWD⏩: Jesse Marsch on the Red Bulls' rallying for a win! pic.twitter.com/o3DdswDRz6
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) May 29, 2017
Kljestan suggested that his form is right on point. He also noted that it may seem like he is doing poorly because he is being compared to his previous season successes. The numbers do not lie, and I am siding with Kljestan. RBNY are notably better in the last third of the season. If Kljestan is consistent with his play, I expect him to perform well, if not better, throughout the last 20 games.
New York Red Bulls National Team Presence
The New York Red Bulls are notably one of the greatest contributors of national team pool players (from the MLS). Both the high quality of play at the first team level and their primer academy development teams make this achievable.
In the past players such as Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, Luis Robles, among many others have been called up to national team play. The newest 27 man roster named by Bruce Arena included McCarty (now with Chicago), but has omitted Kljestan and Robles. Robles, who is having yet another solid season in goal if not included in the national team pool, should certainly still be in the conversation. His ability to stop penalty kicks and make huge plays has saved RBNY countless times this season.
Kemar Lawrence, who is having quite a decent start this year is certainly in the mix with the Jamaican National Team.
Tyler Adams, while not on the senior MNT, is having a decent run in the U-20 World Cup. He has recorded one win and two draws as the U-20 team leads their group. He was instrumental in the only goal scored in their Senegal match. Also their only win in group play.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) May 28, 2017
What to Expect from Here
The New York Red Bulls are in a decent position as they enter the midseason stretch. Last year in 14 games RBNY were 6W-1D-7L. Considering that the RBNY finished first in the East last season, I would say they are in fine shape to make another supporter’s shield run. The team’s focus is also concentrated more on the MLS Cup Playoffs this season as opposed to coming away with another league first place season finish.
The second third will surely be interesting to watch. I expect RBNY to make a strong run at the midpoint of this season. Last year their mid-stretch was filled with ties. If RBNY can avoid one point matches and grab three, then they will be in a great place when the final third of the season comes around.