Orlando City will take on the New York Red Bulls for the second time this MLS season on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Red Bull Arena. New York won the last MLS match between these two teams 3-0 in Orlando, however, they matched up less than a month ago in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal game in which Orlando won 5-1 after a dominant four-goal second half. The Red Bulls currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with a 10-7-7 record and 37 points. Let’s dive a little deeper into City’s next opponent.
The Red Bulls have one of the more efficient offenses in MLS this season, scoring the ninth-most goals (38) in the league. The main reason for their offensive success has been their large numbers of both total and on-target scoring attempts. New York is tied for fifth in total scoring attempts (329) and sixth in on-target scoring attempts (115), which ties the Red Bulls for 10th in accurate shooting percentage (35%). One area where the Red Bulls have struggled offensively this year is using the pass as a way to set up the attack, as New York ranks 19th in assists (31) and 28th in accurate forward-zone passes (3,019). This, however, stems from a broader issue that the team’s passing anywhere on the pitch has not been proficient enough. The Red Bulls rank last in MLS in accurate pass percentage at 69.2%, which is 4.3% behind the Philadelphia Union, who have the league’s second-worst pass percentage at 73.5%.
New York has one of the league’s stingiest defenses, which has been a major reason for its success this season. The Red Bulls are tied for fifth in fewest shots against (92) and tied for seventh in fewest goals against (30). New York ranks in the top 10 of essentially every major defensive statistic. In fact, the team ranks in the top five in the following defensive statistical categories: fourth in blocks (366), third in interceptions (273), tied for second in successful pressure percentage (30.8%), and first in tackles (530). The only category where the Red Bulls rank outside the top five is in clearances, where they are seventh (464). The one defensive category where New York has struggled this year has been in one-on-one situations, losing these battles 47.1% of the time and ranking 27th of the 28 MLS teams in that category.
Players to Watch
The offensive production for New York has been dominated by midfielder Lewis Morgan, the team’s leader in goals (10), total scoring attempts (61), and on-target scoring attempts (24). However, Morgan has struggled with accuracy, ranking sixth in accurate shooting percentage (39.3%) among Red Bull players who have more than 10 total scoring attempts. Morgan has also been crucial in the Red Bulls’ attempt to create scoring chances for their other attacking players, as he is first on the team in crosses (24) this season. Forward Tom Barlow has provided a spark off the bench for the New York offense, only starting in eight of the 24 matches he has played. Despite the low number of starts, Barlow is tied for third in goals (4) and is sixth in total scoring attempts (23), third in on-target scoring attempts (10), and fourth in accurate shooting percentage (43.5%). Midfielder Frankie Amaya is the best offensive distributor for the Red Bulls, ranking first in accurate forward-zone passes (359), second in crosses (19), and tied for second in assists (4).
Defenders John Tolkin and Sean Nealis have been the key performers for New York on the defensive end. Tolkin has helped contribute to the defense all over the pitch. He leads the team in tackles (68) and interceptions (54), while also being tied for first in blocks (39). Nealis has helped bail out the Red Bulls’ defense when they do get in trouble, leading the team in clearances (110). He has also helped to win the ball back for his attacking Red Bull teammates, leading the club in successful pressure percentage (40.7%) among Red Bull players with at least 50 pressures applied. New York has relied on the goalkeeping of Carlos Coronel if the defense does end up allowing scoring chances. Coronel has conceded 28 goals this season and made 53 saves while facing 81 total shots on target against for a save percentage of 65.4%.
That’s what I found on the New York Red Bulls. Let me know what you think about the upcoming match in the comments and, as always, go Orlando!