New York Red Bulls: Red Bulls are far from MLS Cup winning form

New York Red Bulls. Bradley Wright-Phillips (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New York Red Bulls. Bradley Wright-Phillips (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New York Red Bulls are still in the thick of the playoff race, in fact, they have already clinched a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs . However, they need to get back to championship form or it won’t be pretty.

The New York Red Bulls have overall ha a great season. They are even still high up on the table and in the thick of the Supporters Shield race. As crazy as things are about to get in terms of the overall MLS season, one thing remains. The Red Bulls are not at their best right now.

Maybe it is the fact that is has been over two weeks since they had a home match or maybe it was the international break, either way, this does not look like a team ready to make a run in the MLS playoffs.

The Red Bulls are more than likely to have a bye in the playoffs. They will finish in the top two in the conference and be set.

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However, this is not the best time to be struggling to get results. The last time this team won that wasn’t a fluke win on a weird night vs the enigmatic Dynamo was a win at home vs DC United on August 26. Even that was not pretty.

The biggest issue is the Red Bulls have lost their defense. They fired out to give up three vs the Montreal Impact early in the month, then played horribly vs DC United again last Sunday.

The Red Bulls are wasting the talent they have on the back-end. Aaron Long got a call-up with the USA national team and Luis Robles is an elite all-time MLS goalkeeper.

Let us not forget Tim Parker who is also one of the best defenders in the country.

However, once again, and this is not a bad thing, but not a great thing, the Red Bulls need to prove they can get it done without Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is elite. Maybe he is the best player ever. He has nothing to prove. However, the Red Bulls are wasting his talent. Well, they have the potential too.

The Red Bulls consistently prove they cannot win without BWP at his best. The only way they do is if the defense holds up.

But, in their most recent match, the draw against DC last Sunday it was a BWP hat trick that saved the Red Bulls the result. The defense crumbled in that one and the team almost knocked themselves out of the Shield race by losing.

If BWP was not magical and scored three goals, the Red Bulls would have been embarrassed on national TV.

But, he bailed them out.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. Getting your best player to win you games is common. But it is not championship form.

The Red Bulls looked the best when BWP was scoring goals, the defense was holding up, and the Red Bulls were smart at facilitating and managing the game.

Now, they cannot get all of those things going at once. The Red Bulls defense is bad, BWP bails them out. BWP cannot find the back of the net, the defense bails him out. If both are bad, they lose miserably.

The Red Bulls, under Chris Armas, are not drastically worse or better, just fine. They are still playing well and getting results. However, they are just getting by. They are settling for ties or barely winning games. Relying on one goal to see what happens.

Doing this will not win them anything in the playoffs. The Red Bulls, for more than a month now, are not in championship form.

The ill-timing of Jesse Marsch leaving might be taking its toll. The relentless pursuit of Atlanta United might no longer be worth their time to stop, BWP is already a legend with little to prove, whatever the cause for the Red Bulls being lost needs to stop.

The Red Bulls are not clicking on all cylinders. The playoffs are in a few short months, and they are playing like a team that won’t even get to the conference final despite being one of the two best teams.

The Red Bulls have shown this year they can dominate games, get production from their designated players, and win handily.

Now, they are either losing and barely getting by. They have the generational talent like Wright-Phillips and Tyler Adams, but they are not assets, they have become irreplaceable forces.

If they play bad so does the team. That will not get the Red Bulls far.

The Red Bulls get a solid test this Saturday when they play the defending Champions Toronto FC. That is the standard for an MLS Club and the Red Bulls can prove they should be.

But, if the Red Bulls do not return to having a great defense and scoring goals, at least not get all at once, they will be put in their place and choke in the playoffs again.

Because “just getting by” will not do them anything in the MLS Cup. “Just getting by” is not what this team is capable of this year no matter the coach, they have shown that just by being as high up in the standings they are.

So, the Red Bulls need to choose now to get out their funk. They worked so hard to put themselves into position to be sitting atop the East and close to the Shield, they just need to stay there.

It will take more than what we have been seeing in order to do so.

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The Red Bulls at their best, are the best team in Major League Soccer. The best will for sure win them the forever elusive championship and finally, bring it to the New York market.