Bradley Wright-Phillips leads the Red Bulls with four goals. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
I just looked at the Red Bulls list of goal-scorers this season.
There’s Bradley Wright-Phillips at the top with four goals..
Then there’s Daniel Royer and Alex Muyl with two goals apiece and finally, left back Kemar Lawrence.
After that, there’s no one, unless you include Owen Goal, err, I mean own goals, with two.
And that’s all folks!
Pretty pathetic, huh?
That all adds up to 11 goals in as many matches, not exactly what you would have expected from a team that finished with 61 goals last season, good for second in the league behind cross-river rival New York City FC (62).
Theories for the cause of the lackluster finishing have been many:
* Head coach Jesse Marsch’s failed attempt at using two forwards, moving away from his highly successful approach of utilizing BWP as the lone striker for the previous two seasons.
* The absence of a pair of outside midfielders: Lloyd Sam, who was traded to D.C. United midway through last season, and Mike Grella, who only recently returned from a knee injury.
* The trading of Dax McCarty to the Chicago Fire, whose absence might have caused a slower transition from defense to attack (the overall effects of that trade will be tackled in another column).
* A number of players haven’t played up to their expectations, specifically Gonzalo Veron, who is writing his name in the franchise’s record books as one of the biggest busts among foreign imports, and recent signee Frank Gulbrandsen, for whom the jury is still out.
My gut feeling is that all those factors have played a role in the lack of scoring at some time or another.
By mid-May many teams have forged their personalities.
If you can by the squad’s the results, the Red Bulls certainly have a split personality. At home, they are virtually invincible, with a 4-0-1 record and allowing but one goal. On the road, it’s a different story with a 1-5-0 mark while surrendering goals by the bucketful.
Another part of their personality is the Red Bulls’ inability to score goals by the bucketful.
We’ve been waiting for the Red Bulls to break out. Perhaps they will when they welcome the reeling LA Galaxy to Red Bull Arena Sunday at 6 p.m.
One thing is certain: they can ill-afford to go through this season at the current goal-scoring rate and expect to do damage in the playoffs, let alone reach it.