New York Red Bulls
Author: Charles Boehm | Cover illustration by Duane Tomaszewski
It remains the big question on the banks of the Passaic River: Is this finally the year for RBNY? One of just three founding MLS clubs who've yet to win a league title, New York have earned two Supporters' Shields in the past four years but the big prize remains elusive. With MVP contenders Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips leading the way – but longtime midfield metronome Dax McCarty gone – the Red Bulls hope 2017 brings a long-awaited breakthrough.
Key Offseason Transactions
|KEY PLAYERS IN:||KEY PLAYERS OUT:|
|Hassan Ndam (D)|
Michael Murillo (D)
Arun Basuljevic (M) All transactions
|Dax McCarty (M)|
Ronald Zubar (D)
Omer Damari (F)
Player to watch: Sacha Kljestan
Playmaking, pressing, finishing: The mustachioed midfield maestro can do it all. He had a career year in 2016, earning a long-awaited return to the US national team. Now he'll try to find an even higher gear, especially in clutch moments.
How they'll play
HEAD COACH - JESSE MARSCH
Press, press, press: That's been RBNY's distinct identity in the Marsch era, based on relentless, high-energy harrying of opponents. The Red Bulls are sometimes more dangerous without the ball than with it, thanks to their system's ability to create and exploit turnovers and transitions. But 2017 brings tweaks to the formula, with a new-look 4-2-2-2 that pushes heretofore-underachieving Designated Player Gonzalo Veron closer to goal.
Projected Starting XI
4-2-2-2, left to right: Luis Robles (GK) — Kemar Lawrence (D), Aaron Long (D), Aurelien Collin(D), Sal Zizzo (D) — Felipe (M), Sean Davis (M) — Daniel Royer (M), Sacha Kljestan (M) — Bradley Wright-Phillips (F), Gonzalo Veron (F)
2nd in Eastern Conference. Over the winter RBNY bid farewell to McCarty and sporting director Ali Curtis, two key elements of their recent success. But with the academy system cranking out Homegrown talent and the established stars at the peak of their powers, the Red Bulls carry legitimate championship aspirations once again. Can they deliver in the big moments?