Royer, Kljestan spark red-hot Red Bulls in victory over Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – There may be a dispute over who owns the city, but one thing is certain right now: New York is red hot.

The New York Red Bulls won their third straight road game, knocking off Minnesota United FC with a 3-0 win at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday. The opening goal, scored by Daniel Royer, was his eighth on the season and his fourth in the last three matches.

“He’s now catching more balls and facing their backline instead of having his back to goal,” head coach Jesse Marsch told about Royer’s hot streak. “Any attacking player will tell you that they’d rather face the goal than have their back to it. Danny’s in a good way. He loves being here. I say that all the time, because he comes from Austria and, you know, we have connections obviously in Europe. It's how we found him, and he’s been a really good fit. He’s only getting better.”

Royer doesn't chalk up his run of form to any one thing.

“I don’t know (what’s been clicking). It worked out quite well the past few games. I’m happy about that, but it’s a team effort. We’re creating more chances, scoring more goals. We have a lot of goal scorers, and we’re going to go with the flow now.”

Meanwhile, Sacha Kljestan made his own history today: His second-half assist was his 43rd since joining the Red Bulls in 2015.

“I can’t say I’m not proud,” the US international reflected. “To move in front of a guy like Thierry Henry is pretty special, and to do it in two and a half years says something. I’m proud of it. I’m happy we got a win overall. I’m proud of my career with the Red Bulls so far, and hopefully it’s just begun.”

Marsch thinks that Kljestan – and other veterans on his squad – deserve a little more respect that they're getting.

Well, now he’s got nine, and that’s second in the league,” Marsch said of the record-setting helper. “There’s been a lot of talk about Sacha: About how he’s not playing well, hasn’t been as good."

Noting that Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles are weathering similar criticisms, he added, "Our guys have never lost confidence in who they are, or how they play. I’m very happy specifically for Sacha, Luis, and Bradley. They’ve had to endure growing pains with a young team. Those guys are everything to our team. To have Sacha set the record, Brad continuing to add to his record, Luis [with] his own record . . . these guys are now legends of the club. I’m very pleased for them, and they're the backbone of who we are.”

The win helped solidify the Red Bulls as one of the top four teams in the East. With Royer firing on all cylinders and stars like Kljestan and Wright-Phillips in form, Marsch is confident that their winning ways can continue into the season's second half.

“You can say what you want about us because we’re not perfect, but you better have a plan. We’re going to come, and we’re going to come hard. We’re going to make sure for 90 minutes that you’re going to feel us. We have a ways to go and we’ll get much better.”