After early season attacking struggles, New York Red Bulls credit sharper movement for recent goal boom

HANOVER, N.J. – Their defense may currently be at it’s thinnest, but with an offense firing on all cylinders, the New York Red Bulls are coping just fine.

Despite losing two of their biggest offensive weapons this offseason in Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, the Red Bulls have managed their fair share of production in front of net, with their 27 goals tied for second in the league this season.

And as of late, New York simply can’t stop scoring.

Over their first 16 competitive matches, RBNY had scored more than two goals only once, with that instance coming in their 3-0 US Open Cup win against NASL bottom feeders Atlanta Silverbacks.

That’s all changed in recent weeks, with the Red Bull offense coming alive against local rivals. They netted three times in the Bronx against New York City FC on June 28, torched the New York Cosmos for four goals in a USOC home win on July 1 and dropped another four on the New England Revolution this past Saturday.

“The attacking part of the game always takes a bit longer than the defensive part,” said captain Dax McCarty. “Obviously it’s nice to see it clicking. That was a frustrating part of our game because we created a lot of chances but never scored more than two goals. 2-0 or 2-1 is always a tough lead to defend and it felt like we were giving up too many goals towards the end of games. Scoring three or four goals, you always like your chances to win games.”

Particularly in the 4-1 win against New England, the Red Bulls showed a clinical aptitude that they had sometimes lacked earlier in the season. New York hit the Revs early and often, setting an MLS record with three goals in the opening 12 minutes and creating chance after chance, with a few sequences looking as if they came straight off the training ground.

“We’ve been working at it,” said winger Lloyd Sam, who had a goal and an assist on Saturday. “We’ve been working at how to score more goals through our movements in the box and interplay between the midfielders and strikers. That must be working.”

The combination play has certainly been a highlight for RBNY, with the front four of Sam, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sacha Kljestan and Mike Grella fostering a familiarity among one another that’s paying off in spades. And for all the consternation surrounding New York’s early goal scoring woes, head coach Jesse Marsch has remained confident in his side’s abilities going forward.

“We’ve been a little bit sharper and fine tuned some of the movements,” Marsch said. “I’ve said all along, even when we weren’t scoring goals in the stretch where we were losing a few games, that I wasn’t concerned about the goal scoring; that was going to come.”

Regardless of their recent scoring outbursts, Marsch hasn’t lost sight of the importance of playing solid soccer on both sides of the pitch.

“I know we’re going to continue to find ways to be dangerous because of the players we have,” Marsch added. “Good teams find ways to win 1-0 games and find ways to not give up goals, so that’s still something we need to continue to work on and emphasize as we’re moving forward.”