UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls have made a number of changes to their personnel this year, and after having had time to establish how the team performs with the influx of new talent, head coach Hans Backe has mapped out what he expects during this stretch run of the season.
“Sometimes if you play Sébastien [Le Toux] wide, then normally you almost play a 4-3-3 because attacking wise, he will always be in a high position, so it’s just a game of numbers in a way,” Backe said. “Every time we talk 4-4-2 and that‘s always [ticked] me off is that that’s [called] a defending formation, but every other team that’s talk about 4-3-3, they defend even more with 4-5-1. So normally for a team as us, we should say that we play 2-4-4, and you have a new system, because that’s what we do.”
The Red Bulls do like to throw numbers forward when they have the ball, and both full backs are constantly overlapping into the attack. But even with Backe previously stating he wants to settle on a back four before the playoffs, he said there are still up to seven guys that the team can use along the backline.
“Wilman [Conde] has played phenomenal two games as a left back,” said Backe. “[Markus] Holgersson, [Heath] Pearce has played most of the games now as center backs. Connor [Lade] playing as a sometimes wide left, right fullback, he’s very versatile. [Brandon] Barklage is back. He’ll pick up the fight, of course. Roy [Miller] is with the Costa Rican national team.”
Backe also touched on the role of recent acquisition, Tim Cahill. The Australian international started playing in central midfield for the Red Bulls but most recently served as a second striker, and that is likely where he will serve New York in the coming games.
“Even if you put him on central midfield, he will end up as more of a second striker, even with the pressing game when we defend but also as a late runner in the attacking game,” said Backe. “That was not really the plan to just play him as a striker but his running and work ethic, he will adapt as a striker in many, many attacks.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.