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New York Red Bulls: Marc Rzatkowski’s heroics notch Armas’ first win [Highlights]

Despite the loss in recent Hudson River Derby, the New York Red Bulls declared their home red with a convincing win over strong Sporting Kansas City side.

RBNY v. Sporting Kansas City
Red Bull Arena, 7 p.m. ET
July 14, 2018
Attendance: 16,793

Harrison, NJ – The New York Red Bulls made it known to MLS that Red Bull Arena is still red despite a recent loss to NYCFC. An early goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips and two top-class goals from Marc Rzatkowski in the second half sealed three important points against a strong Sporting Kansas City side.

Before the Match

The New York Red Bulls (RBNY) and Sporting Kansas City (SKC) hold some of the best records in the 2018 MLS season. RBNY entered the match with 32 points in 17 matches, enough for third in the Eastern Conference.

Likewise, Sporting Kansas City had 33 points in 19 matches, earning them third in the Western Conference. While points per game favored RBNY, SKC in their last three MLS meetings (since 2015) came away with seven out of a possible nine points.

Here are some pre-match stats:

Avg. Goals per Game: RBNY 2, SKC 1.8
Avg. Goals Against: RBNY 1, SKC 1.3
Wins: RBNY 10, SKC 9
Top Scorers: Bradley Wright-Phillips (11), Dániel Sallói (6)

The Saturday night game was an opportunity for two top sides to prove themselves top contenders for this seasons’ top prizes.

First Half

In the fourth minute, BWP was delivered a splendid ball on his run into the box. His calm chip shot into the goal, however, saw a celebration cut short as the sideline referee called the play offside. VAR, however, confirmed that the goal was onside and therefore counted.

This was BWP’s 12th goal of the season.

SKC Strike Back

In the eighth minute, SKC struck back as a wide-open Graham Zusi received a ball on the far post of a cross. He hit a convincing ground pass into traffic near the top of the six-yard-box, which found the foot of Johnny Russell. Johnny Russell redirected the ball into the back of the RBNY goal.

Struggling RBNY

For the most part of the first half, RBNY were uncharacteristically on the defensive in their own half. RBNY only held about just over one-third of possession going into the last 10 minutes of the first half. New York was also outshot by three.

The lack of possession and quick passes prevented RBNY to continue their typical dominating style, which they showed in the first ten minutes of the match.

Half Time Stats

Goals: RBNY 1 – SKC 1
Shots: RBNY 4 – SKC 7
Shots on Goal: RBNY 1 – SKC 2
Possession: RBNY 46.3% – SKC 53.7%

Second Half

RBNY opened the second half as they started, with a high press and intensity. Unfortunately, in the 51st minute Roger Espinoza hit a rocket from just outside the 18-yard-box. The ball shot past Luis Robles who looked stunned as it screamed into the back of the net. The assist was by Graham Zusi.

Critical Substitutions

In the 59th minute, the crowd approved with astounding applause that Chris Armas subbed a Derrick Etienne for a struggling Alex Muyl.

Shortly after Armas also subbed Marc Rzatkowski for Kaku. This was a seeming attempt to stimulate the offense of RBNY.

RBNY Respond

After a quick spray of water on his face, Daniel Royer worked to win the ball from the SKC offense. He played the ball to a sprinting Tyler Adams on the right side of the field. A strong cross from Adams found the feet of Rzatkowski who shot a hard, low ball into the back of the net.

RBNY came to life in the 80th minute when they took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the match. Rzatkowski, again, was the unlikely game-changer. He scored his second MLS goal ever. From a Sean Davis pass, Rzatkowski blasted a shot into the upper corner of the SKC net beating Tim Melia.

RBNY won all three points against a tough SKC. This will certainly boost the team’s confidence as they get back to winning form.

Lessons from the Match

RBNY offensive pressure prevailed. This was owed to the depth of the RBNY team. Armas, as opposed to his first game, made three substitutions. Marc Rzatkowski scored two goals in the second half, which proved to be critical to RBNY’s success.

Possession and passes also picked up in the last 45 minutes. Overall possession grew in RBNY’s favor and their shots and passes increased. RBNY edged SKC in nearly every critical category as they secured a huge win at home.

Final Stats

Goals: RBNY 3 – SKC 2
Shots: RBNY 17 – SKC 12
Shots on Goal: RBNY 6 – SKC 4
Possession: RBNY 49.5% – SKC 50.5%

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.