Bradley Wright-Phillips celebrates with his teammates after the victory. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

HARRISON, N.J. — For the first time this Major League Soccer season, the Red Bulls looked like, well, the old Red Bulls we have known and loved the past two years.

And for the first time this season, the Red Bulls scored multiple goals without needing an own goal to pad their total.

Using a free-flowing attack and their old 4-2-3-1 formation, the Red Bulls gave notice to the rest of the league they recovered their old swagger, at least for a week, in a 2-0 victory over D.C. United at Red Bull Arena Saturday night.

Alex Muyl and Bradley Wright-Phillips struck for second-half goals as New York ended its four-game winless streak (0-3-1). The Red Bulls improved to 3-3-1 while D.C., trying to make it back-to-back wins over New York teams (it defeated New York City FC, 2-1, last week), dropped to 2-3-1.

“When you look at the last four games and us not getting any wins, what’s important for us at his stage of the season is to get good performances,” said goalkeeper Luis Robles, who recorded his third shutout in as many home games while extending his MLS-record of consecutive games played to 147. “In those four games, I don’t think we can say as a team we performed well.

So, it’s really important for us to come home to Red Bull Arena, in a rivalry game against a good opponent, and play well for 90 minutes. Of course, you want the result. It’s important to get that performance and I felt for 90 minutes we had that today.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt the Red Bulls earned three points as they moved from seventh into fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

“Absolutely,” Robles said. “It’s going to make it a nice Easter weekend. Jesse [Marsch, coach] gave us two days off. I don’t if it’s because it’s Easter tomorrow or because it’s we played so well, but I’ll take it.”

With captain Sacha Kljestan controlling the strings at midfield in the familiar formation in his best game of the young season, the Red Bulls enjoyed a considerable advantage in possession and chances. They overcame a frustrating first half before connecting twice in the second half.

 

The #SetPieceSavages are at it again! Alex Muyl puts the Red Bulls ahead! 1-0 #NYvDC | #RBNY

تم نشره بواسطة ‏‎New York Red Bulls‎‏ في 15 أبريل، 2017

“It helps that we’ve gone back to our old formation,” Kljestan said. “Guys just feel a little bit more comfortable and that’s an important aspect of our game and that’s guys feeling confident and comfortable. Obviously when I play in the middle I get the ball more often and hopefully I can settle the game for us and try to make plays to make the guys around me better. I think I did that tonight.”

Only 40 seconds into the second half, Muyl headed home a Kljestan corner kick off the hands of goalkeeper Bill Hamid for his first goal this season.

BWP doubled the advantage in the 62nd minute. Felipe slipped the ball to the English striker, who had tons of space on the right side of the penalty area, nutmegging Hamid for his third goal.

Right between the wickets. BWP doubles the lead! ⚽️2-0 #NYvDC | #RBNY

تم نشره بواسطة ‏‎New York Red Bulls‎‏ في 15 أبريل، 2017

 

“We created some good chances tonight, which was nice to have, to have some clear-cut chances and then guys bury them,” Kljestan said. “The most important thing for us is three home games and three shutouts.”

Marsch said he saw Saturday night’s performance coming after last week’s defeat at Orlando City SC and during training.

“There’s been so much talk about our team on the outside, like we’re no good and we don’t look like the team of old,” he said. “I said after the game last week that it looked like our team again, and it looked like now the personality and the belief and the commitment to play the way we want to play, that that looked like us. It’s taken a little bit of time to come around that way, but I’ve been watching this team train, and the training sessions the last three weeks have been great. We’ve gotten fitter, we’ve gotten sharper, we’ve gotten better, we’ve gotten a lot of young guys opportunities. So, I knew what I was looking at, and I knew we were going to have a really good performance tonight.”