Hot Takes: The new-look Red Bulls, the Fire's future and Vancouver's key

If you're an MLS fan, you're probably very familiar with his work.

During the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, ExtraTime Radio co-host David Gass will be working overtime, sharing the astute, critical observations that have become a staple for listeners of the flagship podcast.

RBNY no one-trick pony

A major reason the New York Red Bulls have suffered postseason heartbreak the last two seasons is their tendency to be predictable and reliant on their desire to high press. In their 4-0 Knockout Round win against the Chicago Fire, they used the high press to take the lead, but then they sat back and comfortably saw out the game.

Tyler Adams has arrived

New York Red Bulls teenager Tyler Adams is already a difference maker in MLS. Not only did he get the assist on RBNY's second goal by Sacha Kljestan, but Chicago speedster David Accam was forced to swap wings in the first half to get away from Adams’ lockdown defense at right wingback.

A Fire vision

Knockout Round elimination notwithstanding, Chicago had a great season going from last place in 2016 to third best in the league in 2017. But it remains to be seen how they bounce back.

In recent years we've seen similar effective, veteran sides like Montreal (2016), Columbus Crew SC and D.C. United (2015) take a step back the following season with another year of wear on the legs of their key contributors.

The Vancouver gambit?

The Seattle Sounders can take a valuable lesson from the San Jose Earthquakes' rotund 5-0 loss to Vancouver: The Whitecaps are content to sit back early on and let you attack so that spaces can open up for their counter.

San Jose in fact owned the match in the first 20 minutes, but they failed to take advantage of their opportunities and that's where the match was lost.

Score early on Vancouver like the Sounders did back on September 27 in a 3-0 win, and the path can prove plenty smoother.

Set-piece danger

Here's something the Sounders definitely learned they need to prevent at all costs: Committing fouls on Vancouver players around the box.

Seattle were bailed out by Stefan Frei’s wonder save a few weeks ago, which prevented a Vancouver equalizer. San Jose were not as fortunate, essentially losing their Knockout Round match on dead balls which resulted in the Whitecaps' first two goals.

Techera tips the balances

Vancouver's Uruguayan winger Cristian Techera is a TAM-quality game-winner. He may not do it in every match, but when he is on his game Vancouver are a different squad.

Many will point to the production of stars like Yordy Reyna and Fredy Montero, but Techera is the player who can take the Whitecaps from playoff caliber to Cup contenders.

Jury's still out on Vancouver

Although many will be blown away by the overpowering 5-0 final result in Wednesday's Knockout Round – the first playoff win in Vancouver Whitecaps history – it might be wise to reserve judgement.

Here's why: I thought San Jose were the one team in the playoffs that wasn’t a true contender and for that reason I can't say for sure that we learned too much about Vancouver from that game. The Quakes have some noticeable flaws along their back line and Vancouver took advantage of them. Seattle won't have the same weaknesses.

Playoff wake-up call

The two lopsided wins on Wednesday night can help us remember just how unpredictable MLS can be. How many saw those score lines coming?

No result from this point forward would surprise me in this year's postseason. Yes Toronto are everyone's favorite, but every team left standing has an Achilles' heel that can be exposed. And if a club happens to get hot – and the Red Bulls sure look like they've been warming up in recent weeks – don't be shocked to see them go all the way.


David Gass is a national soccer broadcaster and co-host of MLS's ExtraTime Radio, ExtraTime Live, and the Club & Country: After The Whistle shows. He also serves as a play-by-play broadcaster and analyst on MLS matches as well as CONCACAF Champions League, USL, college soccer, youth soccer, and more.

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