The New York Red Bulls’ recent numbers on the road aren’t pretty. Far from it, in fact.
In their last seven games away from home, the Red Bulls have posted a disappointing 1-4-2 record and have been limited to five goals while conceding 10. Worse yet is the manner in which New York have played in those games, as they have struggled to demonstrate the type of offensive attitude that they show at home while also looking like a disjointed and unbalanced team at times.
Those are facts not lost on head coach Mike Petke, and he’s determined to try and change them for the better this Sunday when the Eastern Conference-leading Red Bulls visit Western Conference cellar-dwellers Chivas USA.
“We address it constantly, try to figure out what’s going on,” Petke told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday afternoon. “My thing to these guys is if we make the playoffs, we’re going to be on the road for one game, hopefully more, and this has to change.
“Going into Chivas, and talking with the staff, my mindset is I would rather go in and just go after them. That way we can leave no stone unturned and really try to get at them than sit back, be lethargic and cross your fingers for a goal. This week we’re really going to hit on, even though we are on the road, getting forward, being in their half as much as possible. That’s not to say that hasn’t been the message all year but maybe we have to reiterate that.”
Petke also indicated recently that some changes could be in order. It is unlikely that New York move away from the 4-4-2 formation they have deployed for much of the year, but the personnel might change a bit given their lack of production on the road, general offensive struggles (they have been shutout in five of their last nine matches) and tired legs.
“We’re not going to kill them this week in practice,” said Petke, “because, to be quite honest, we have noticed a little bit of fatigue, especially key players who have played a lot of minutes, the Eric Alexanders, the Jonny Steeles type guys.”
If Petke does rest some of his regulars and tries new things up top and in the midfield, he has a pair of new players from which to choose. Bradley Wright-Phillips had his visa approved late last week and could be an option at forward or out on the right wing, where Alexander normally lines up, while recent acquisition David Carney is also available after receiving his visa earlier this week.
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Wright-Phillips is the more likely of the two to start on Sunday, but the 29-year-old Carney could see the field as well in some capacity.
“He’s a versatile player who could easily play two positions along the left side, in the midfield and he has a lot of experience at leftback,” said Petke. “He’s got great pace, very attack-minded and likes to run at people, so that’s someone that we thought would be smart to bring into this mix.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.