Tzvi Machlin (@JTMLovesSports), staff writer of Once A Metro, an SB Nation site that covers the New York Red Bulls exchanged some questions with Cincinnati Soccer Talk about Tuesday’s US Open Cup Semifinal. Make sure to check out OnceAMetro.com for our answers to their question and more information regarding the New York Red Bulls. We hope you enjoy his short preview before tonight’s match.
1: What playing style will we see out of New York Red Bulls?
The bread and butter of this team under head coach Jesse Marsch has been the high-press in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which involves moving the deepest players as far up as possible both to maintain possession in opposing territory and set up chances outside the box. The Achilles heel of this formation is the counter-attack. If just one opposing player gets a breakaway without being offside, it becomes a footrace to the goalkeeper. Lately, however, Jesse Marsch has been using a hybrid high-press system which I like to refer to as a 3-2-1-3-1 formation. He uses three defenders in the middle, then utilizes wingbacks on the outside to sweep things up, keeps one defensive central midfielder, three attacking midfielders (with Sacha Kljestan as the No 10) and Bradley Wright-Phillips up top. It’s what he’s used this entire tournament and it would be very surprising if he reverts to the 4-2-3-1 he used earlier this year just because of a few injuries. In this new formation, the wingbacks serve an important role, both as attacking players on the outside and as an extra line of defense on the counter-attack. The 18-7 goal difference we’ve had over our last six games is a pretty solid testament to its effectiveness. Of course… we had Daniel Royer for those games…
2: Is Daniel Royer expected to play? If not, who will replace him?
I almost feel like you’re taunting me by asking this question… No, Royer has a hyperextended leg and is week-to-week. We won’t likely see him until the end of the summer at least. As of now the most likely replacement candidates for Royer would probably be a pair of Red Bull Homegrown players: Alex Muyl and Derrick Etienne Jr. Muyl knows Jesse Marsch’s system like the back of his hand and has good awareness, but limited speed. Etienne Jr. (aka The Haitian Messi) is a creative attacking midfielder with a superb athletic ability and is great at moving the ball deep into opposing territory. I would prefer to see Etienne replace Royer, but my gut tells me Muyl will get the nod.
3: Do you expect to see a first-choice squad travel to Cincinnati?
Absolutely. Our final scores in the Open Cup may not indicate it, but the team has been playing almost its entire first-team lineup in each of our three Cup games to date. The only player Jesse Marsch has deployed as a starter who doesn’t usually receive first-team minutes is GK Ryan Meara – and that’s because our first-team GK Luis Robles hasn’t missed a minute of MLS play in over 160 games. And even Meara might not be a lock to get the start for this one. Given the fact that this is our first time appearing in the Semifinals in over a decade, I would expect this team to go soccer balls to the wall for this one.
4: What attention have the media given in New York to the cup run by the Red Bulls?
Not to sound cynical, but this gets the same amount of attention as just everything else run by the Red Bulls: None. Allow me to quickly explain the relationship between media and the Red Bulls around these parts:
The New York metro area has two NFL teams, two NBA teams, two MLB teams and two NHL teams (the NJ Devils don’t count apparently) – all of which have rabid fan bases that have been going at it for decades and occupy more than enough of our sports media’s time. Our sport, on the other hand, is pretty low on the totem pole. Most of our sports radio people don’t how to pronounce David Villa’s name! Heck, even UFC, boxing, and the WWE get more airtime than soccer in around here… Believe me, a soccer game involving a team younger than the Knicks’ last NBA Finals appearance won’t be a blip on the NY media’s radar for a LONG time.
As for what they SHOULD be saying about our run: We’ve gotten by on a ton of lucky breaks while playing mostly not to lose the entire time. Miracle saves by Ryan Meara saved us from losses to NYC and Philadelphia in the Fourth Round and Round of 16 respectively, while the team was only able to break through at New England after the Revs were reduced to 10 men on a controversial red card.
The Red Bulls have shown the kind of inconsistency that makes even a game against a Second Division opponent seem like a daunting task (no offense). Even in the wake of Djiby Fall’s suspension, the Red Bulls have exactly the kind of star-crossed history that suggests that they could very well be in for a major letdown at Nippert. The team has played very poorly in front of large crowds lately, so the fact that you just sold out the game is probably another bad sign for us too….
5: What is your perception of FC Cincinnati from afar?
As someone who wants to see American soccer grow exponentially, it warms my heart every time I see a new club emerge that so quickly grabs its entire city’s attention and gets butts in seats. I see Cincinnati as the template for any city with aspirations of being a First Division soccer venue. With an average of 20k fans attending per game, the MLS brass would be fools not to fast-track Cincinnati to expansion status. From a talent perspective there really isn’t much use in me talking about Djiby Fall I suppose. All I can say is that the team plays terrific defense and I expect them to make it exceptionally hard for the Red Bulls to score. And if they can keep Bradley Wright-Phillips under wraps, Cincinnati may be able to keep the Red Bulls blanked as with the rest of your Open Cup foes.
Projected Starting XI (3-2-1-3-1) from Tzvi Machlin:
GK Ryan Meara
DF Aaron Long – Aurelien Collin – Michael Murillo
WB Kemar Lawrence – Tyler Adams
AM Sean Davis – Sacha Kljestan – Alex Muyl
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips
Make sure to head over to OnceAMetro.com for our companion piece on FC Cincinnati.
March to Matchday Special with Guest Tzvi Machlin of Once A Metro – Podcast
Join host Bryan Weigel as he welcomes guest Tzvi Machlin for the newest show in the CST lineup. March to Matchday will provide an in-depth preview of the upcoming opponent as well as how FC Cincinnati can best defeat them. This show will hopefully fit in your drive time to work, to the pub on game day or lead you right up to game time. We hope you enjoy March to Matchday today!
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@bryanweigel for @CincySoccerTalk
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