(Bradley Wright-Phillips looking at the change on his Red Bulls career goal record to 83 on Saturday night – Photo by Jason Schott)
The Red Bulls beat a gritty Orlando City SC team, 3-1, on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
This is their fifth win in six games, and a nice bounce back after their loss in the Hudson River Derby to the New York City Football Club last Sunday.
The Red Bulls improve to 12-2-9, 38 points, in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They are three points behind the Chicago Fire (41 points), who lost to the Columbus Crew 3-1 on Saturday night, NYCFC (43 points) moved into second place with a 2-0 win at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Orlando City got on the board first, as Carlos Rivas scored on a beautiful shot to the left of Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles’ short side, in the 18th minute. This was just a minute after Rivas missed one by inches at the right post.
The Red Bulls tied it in the 30th minute when Orlando City defender Leo Pereira kicked one into his own net trying to deflect away a corner kick from Tyler Adams.
It stayed that way until the 60th minute when Alex Muyl and Sean Davis threaded the needle in the box and set up Bradley Wright-Phillips with a goal to make it 2-1.
Wright-Phillips now has 14 on the season, and 83 career goals, a franchise record.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of Wright-Phillips, “Yeah, I mean, you know, Brad, the thing that I’m most pleased with is that he’s just now become so much more of a cutthroat goal scorer. He’s always been a great goal scorer, but lately, it’s like he’s focused now, when he gets the chance to make sure that he buries it; and if it doesn’t come right away, to stick with the game and concentrate and make sure that he’s putting himself in front of goal to make plays, has been great.
“That’s what that goal was. The last thing I said to him before the half was final plays. He made a big one. Got us in front, and then obviously the Sean Davis goal was fantastic. Yeah, Brad’s in a good way. A lot of guys are in a good way.”
In the 80th minute, Sean Davis fired a rocket by Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik to the right corner to put the game away and make it 3-1 Red Bulls.
Davis said of his goal, “We’ve been talking about throw-ins the whole year, you know, both offensively and defensively and how dangerous they can be on both sides. For me, I just saw some space around me, Kemar had a good throw-in to me, I was able to turn, get out of some pressure, and then Jesse stressed at half time to shoot. So, that went through my mind and I just tried to bend it outside of the post, like I practice all the time with Chris Armas.”
The end of the game was marked by some tension, as Sacha Kljestan of the Red Bulls and Orlando City’s Richie Laryea got into it and were each given cautions for unsporting behavior in the 92nd minute.
In the 97th minute, as a result of what happened before, Kaka was given an (ejection for violent conduct after hitting Aurelien Collin in the face. It appeared that the former teammates were having fun, and the red card should be reversed.
After that, Orlando City’s Cristian Higuita and Davis battled and were each given cautions for unsporting behavior.
Davis said of the altercation towards the end of the match, “It’s always a balance, you know, standing up for your teammates but also knowing not to cross the line. I think tonight was a good experience for everyone on the field because, you know, there were some testy moments. They were obviously frustrated with the result and they were very upset. At the same time, I think they were going after our guys a little bit. I remember on that play specifically, one of their players went after Tyler and it was instinct to look out for him so that was important to me.”
Red Bulls Midfielder and Captain Sacha Kljestan said of their run,
“I think we’ve found the formation that put our guys in positions to succeed and we have a little more clarity now, and I think we also cover ourselves a little bit more when we press. We have a little bit more cover defensively and in the attacking third I feel like we have a little bit more clarity and I think we have a lot of whip now, which we didn’t have before, so all those factors have led to our success lately.”
Marsch said of getting the win after falling behind on that Rivas goal, “Well, listen, every time we play at home, I think there’s a high level of confidence and belief. Right now on this team, there’s been major momentum. I’ve been saying that for a while. I think nobody was fazed too much. I think it was disappointment because it was a play that got away from us.
“Yeah, there’s definitely I think an understanding on the field of how to play for each other, how to stick to the game, how to not worry too much, how to not panic. And then when things are going well, when we get a lead, to not take anything for granted and stay on top of the details. The more that we do that, I think the better of a team we’re going to be.
“So with a lot of young guys and a lot of new guys in the system and then playing a different formation, there’s been a lot to pick up on, a lot to learn, but guys are doing a great job of understanding their roles and then competing once we blow the whistle.”
Marsch said of the job Davis has done in the new “press” system, “Outstanding. Outstanding. Outstanding. Sean has covered ground, pressed well, counter-pressed well, battled in the midfield, slowed down for us, made great attacking plays, been dangerous around the goal. Complete performances. Complete performances.
“So you know, we all have seen over the last three years what a good player Sean is and it’s just been trying to unlock him a little bit and then tactically trying to think about how to use him appropriately.
“I think of all the — I mean, the two people that this formation I think has rewarded the most are Danny Royer and Sean Davis and they have obviously been incredibly important players for us in the last couple months here. Really happy for Sean. He’s showing all the great qualities we know he has, and I think he’s establishing himself at a really high level now.”
Marsch said of what he wants to see from the team regarding development the rest of the season, “Well, I think in general, I want to now see us be able to call on many different players, and I think that we’ve built a great roster full of a lot of talented young players that compliment our established veterans.
“So for me, this is the best roster that we’ve assembled since I’ve been here. And I want to see now when we call on any player that he’s ready to perform at the highest level, and then I want to see how good we can be at being us. I want to see how much we can press, counter-press, make the game fast, be tuned into tactical details, be sharpened into everything we do, and that’s our challenge.
“I think have we’ve taken things along but we have more to go. I said it maybe a couple weeks back; that as good as things have been lately, I know we can be so much better. So I’m just trying to stay on top of those details to continue to feed them positive reinforcement, but to challenge them that we’ve got more to go.”