New York Red Bulls Daniel Royer
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The New York Red Bulls have a shot at the 2018 MLS Cup and there are five things they can do to finally bring it home.

The New York Red Bulls find themselves in a familiar position approaching the 2018 MLS All-Star break. Aug. 1 will mark roughly the halfway point of the season.

RBNY, as typical, sits above the red playoff elimination line at fifteen games into the regular season. They currently hold the record 9W-2D-4L. At the same point in 2016 and 2017, RBNY saw seven wins and six wins respectively.

Early Wins Early Hopes

Unlike the previous two seasons, RBNY sits only one win away from the ten-win mark. This mark is the notorious goal that all but seals the deal for a playoff position. Currently, Atlanta United is the only team that holds this honor.

This year, however, could be the earliest moment in recent years to capture that elusive tenth win. Additionally, once RBNY has captured that tenth win, they can worry about the top prizes of Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.

To achieve these prizes, RBNY needs these five elements to finally bring home the ultimate prize that New York and New Jersey have long been waiting for.

1. Win, Win, Win.

While in the past RBNY have been consistent playoff contenders, they have failed to seal the deal. Forget the early matches, finish off the season strong. This means that the only thing that the New York Red Bulls should be concerned with is winning. If they can achieve all three points in at least six or seven of their last matches, they will be well on their way to multiple titles.

2. Every Point Is Valuable

This point only makes sense in conjunction with point one. Wins are obviously valuable, but those scrappy ties, especially away, will push RBNY over the top. The result of point one and two—simply do not lose.

3. Compete Against Top Teams

This has been an issue for RBNY in the past. They cannot be in contention unless they can knock off other MLS Cup contenders. This means Atlanta, NYCFC, Columbus, Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas, and LAFC. Six of their last 19 games are against these teams. If they can compete and win, which is not unlikely, RBNY will succeed.

4. Rely on Experience

Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles, two of the longest-tenured members yearn for an MLS Cup. Both are in prime form as BWP is only three goals off Josef Martinez for the golden boot leader. If you do not consider penalty kicks, BWP sits as the top goal scorer. The good news, his scoring has been consistent into the summer months, so expect more.

Likewise, Luis Robles is one of MLS’ top keepers. Robles has recorded over 1000 minutes and four shutouts. The previous two years he recorded over 10. RBNY also sits as the largest positive goal differentials at 17. In addition, they sit tied in the category of goals against (Sporting KC). These two players will be key to the MLS Cup journey of RBNY.

5. Welcome Youth and Ambitions

Unlike other MLS teams, RBNY has an element of youth on their roster. They currently have the youngest average age of any MLS team at just over 24-years old. RBNY need to tap into their youth to support their seasoned veterans.

Players like Tyler Adams (19), Derrick Etienne Jr. (21), Michael Amir Murillo (22), Alex Muyl (22), Kaku (23), Sean Davis (25), Kemar Lawrence (25), Aaron Long (25), Tim Parker (25), and Florian Valot (25) all seek to make a name for themselves.

Ultimately, this will complement the strong experienced members BWP (33), Daniel Royer (28), Luis Robles (34), Ryan Meara (27), Connor Lade (28), and Aurélien Collin (32). The ambition of the younger players in addition to the older members of the team searching for an MLS title should be the perfect mix for a championship team.

The second half of the season is when RBNY typically shine. All-Star selections BWP, Aaron Long, and Michael Murillo are only proof that this team has what it takes to become MLS Cup champions.

Their test continues on the road against Toronto FC this weekend (7/1). If RBNY can walk away with all three points, they will be in even better position going forward.

Here are some key RBNY matchups that will be critical for their MLS Cup push:

  • 7/8 at NYCFC, 7 p.m. (A)
  • 7/14 against Sporting KC, 7 p.m. (H)
  • 7/28 against Columbus, 7 p.m. (H)
  • 8/5 against LAFC, 6 p.m. (H)
  • 8/22 at NYCFC, 7 p.m. (A)
  • 9/30 against Atlanta, 1 p.m. (H)
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.