The LA Galaxy will open their home slate for the 2021 season on Sunday when they host the New York Red Bulls for the teams’ first meeting in a couple years. Ahead of the game, we caught up with Ben Cork of SB Nation’s RBNY site Once a Metro to get the lowdown. Many thanks to Ben for taking the time to answer my questions!
LAG Confidential asks Once a Metro:
1. Since coastal teams in MLS played their own conference last year, it’s been a while since the Galaxy have seen the Red Bulls. They’ve got a new coach, right? What have you seen so far in his tenure?
Austrian manager Gerhard Struber is 0-2 so far in his Red Bulls tenure, but his reception among fans has been generally positive thanks to the clarity of his vision after two years of dysfunction in New York. Struber has used the offseason to implement a 4-4-2 diamond formation and sporting chief Kevin Thelwell has acquired an entire dozen players in the offseason to play such a formation, the most recent being revealed this week in Cincinnati midfielder Frankie Amaya and Celtic striker Patryk Klimala. While there may be some hiccups as this new team gels, the club has never been more devoted to the Red Bull philosophy of intense pressing and direct attacking with young players, and fans are excited to see the output.
2. New York started the season with a loss against Sporting KC. Any broad assessments from that match, or red flags? Any big positives through 90 minutes of the season?
Obviously it’s never good to lose three points at home, but given the aforementioned context and the way the team played the first half, there isn’t a ton of worry around the team just yet. The Red Bulls largely controlled the first half against Kansas City and took the lead through Caden Clark soon after the break. But as cited by Struber, the team became unbalanced and surrendered a three-minute double to Kansas City soon after the removal of defensive midfielder Youba Diarra. Like the rest of the team, Diarra is not yet fully fit to keep up the intensity of Struber’s intense pressing system through a full 90 minutes. But if the Red Bulls start to play in second halves as well as they did in the first period vs SKC, they will be a formidable force.
3. Again, since we don’t see the Red Bulls come to town often, who are the players to watch out for on Sunday?
As mentioned earlier, the Red Bulls hyperactive transfer window saw its latest additions this week in Amaya and Klimala. While the debuts of either new signing would be notable, the two newcomers who already caught the eye on Saturday night are likely forward Fabio Gomes Netto and fullback Andrew Gutman. The 6’4 Fabio displayed both aerial prowess and eye-catching pace vs. SKC before tiring in the second half, while the former FC Cincinnati left back Gutman impressed with his energy on both sides of the ball before surrendering a handball penalty that began the team’s collapse. With so many new pieces it’s too early to know exactly which players are the most important for this new-look Red Bulls team, but the plethora of candidates should make the team a curious watch for supporters and neutrals alike.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.