(Sacha Kljestan – @NewYorkRedBulls)
The Red Bulls scored four goals in the second half to roll to a 5-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena.
With the win, the Red Bulls move back into playoff position, in fifth place with a 9-8-2 record, 29 points.
It was the first time since their 7-0 win over NYCFC at Yankee Stadium on May 21, 2016 that the Red Bulls recorded at least five goals in a match.
Sean Davis scored his first of the season, and second of his MLS career, in the 38th minute to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead at the half. Sacha Kljestan got the assist on the play.
Kljestan got a goal of his own in the 73rd minute, and he assisted a goal by Felipe just two minutes later to make it 3-0 Red Bulls.
Kljestan’s two assists raised his MLS career total as a Red Bull to 42, which tied Thierry Henry for the club lead. With his goal, Kljestan became the ninth Red Bull in franchise history to record 15 goals and 15 assists.
San Jose’s recently added Valeri Kazaishvili cut the Red Bulls lead to 3-1 in the 88th minute.
Daniel Royer responded with back-to-back goals in a span of 1:43, in the 90th and 91st minutes, to give the Red Bulls a 5-1 victory.
Royer became the second Red Bull this season to record a multi-goal performance and raised his season total to seven.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of this being one of the most complete games they have played this season, “In terms of a comprehensive performance, yeah. It was good. I feel like the game was in grasp. The now there are dangerous encounters a couple times so it could have been tied at some point.
“But, you know, I think it was very good, and we’re moving in the right direction. But I still believe there is plenty of room for improvement.
“You know, we’ve been in a good way. We’ve had some results now pile up for us. We’ve rotated the formation a little bit, and we think it gets the best out of a lot of guys. But, you know, you always have to be careful that you always continue to make sure that we have our minds in the right place and that we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves. That would lead to the other part, which is it’s one game at a time, it’s one day at a time.”
Kljestan said of their comprehensive performance, “I think the team is starting to their stride. I think the results have been pretty good for the last eight or nine games. We’re hitting our stride and we feel good. We feel really comfortable in this formation change. A lot of guys are put in better spots to succeed.”
Marsch said of Kljestan starting to find his stride after a slow start to the season and how it’s related to his positioning of the 11 on the field, “Yeah, when I say we get the best out of a lot of guys, it gets the best out of Sacha. It gives him a little bit more room to roam. As we’re making passes through the midfield, it’s not so easy for one six [holding midfielder] to keep track of him, like teams have often done with us. So if they don’t rotate and they stay on Sacha that means room for Sean and Danny to find little gaps.
“And if they do rotate, then Sacha can find little holes. Obviously our team is very good when we get him facing goal with guys running in front of him.
“Yeah, so I think that the overall balance of the midfield has been quite good. Now, I think we can use Sacha a little bit more to the right, little bit more to the left, still deeper sometimes. We haven’t used him as a ghost nine, but I think we can do that sometimes.
“So there’s still, when I say flexibility, there is flexibility. We’re putting guys in positions to plug in their strengths and I think we can do that by rotating a lot of different things.
“It’s now a challenge to get on the field because we don’t even have all our guys here yet, and once we get all the guys back and we make a few additions, then all of a sudden we feel like there will be a lot of options to choose from.”
On the Red Bulls team as a whole putting it together the last month, Marsch said, “We’ve stuck to it. We’ve had to grind through moments. We’ve had to feel the sense of failure for a large portion of the seep, but we’ve all stuck together and make sure that we know that this is what this is about. We knew we’d come out on the other end, but you have to stay after it every day. You have to stay committed every day and find ways to get better.
“So, you know, that along with the formation change I think has ignited our group. So every guy deserves credit. My staff has worked really hard. The players, all of them have put a lot into this. They haven’t backed down. They haven’t put their heads down. They haven’t complained or pointed fingers. They’ve all stayed on the task, and that’s been — that’s been the case as long as I’ve been here.
“We have a great group of young men, so it’s just about trying to help them understand how to grow every day.”
Marsch said of the Red Bulls getting over .500 and back into playoff position, “The .500 part, I try not to look at the table too much. I know we’re over the red line now. I didn’t see the other results, but we try to stay focused on what we’re doing knowing that if we take care of things, that the table takes care of itself.
“I haven’t sweat the fact that we’ve been out of the playoffs. Like there’s plenty of season left, right? So, what’s been more important is the daily work.”