Daniel Royer: “We want to play forward as quickly as possible, but also don’t run into an open knife.” (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Looking to move on from a 1-0 derby loss at New York City FC Sunday, the Red Bulls will face a struggling side when Sporting Kansas City visits Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Saturday.
As bad as the Red Bulls might have felt, SKC is sporting a three-game losing streak. But New York isn’t concerned about how many games the visitors have lost in a row because it is a quality team.
“We’re just thinking a really good team is coming to Red Bull Arena,” left back Kemar Lawrence said. “We dropped some points the other night and we want to make up for that. We can’t really give Atlanta any room to really run away with this thing. They’re a good team and they don’t really give up points, especially when they play at home, so that’s really the aim for us, not giving up any points at all and trying our best to take the full three points.”
Entering the game, the Red Bulls (10-5-2, 32 points) are in third place in the Eastern Conference behind leader Atlanta United FC (12-4-4, 40) and New York City FC (11-4-4, 37). SKC (9-4-6, 33), which is in third place in the Western Conference, can move into first place if FC Dallas (10-3-5, 35) and Los Angeles Football Club (10-4-4, 34) this weekend.
The match will pit two teams that rely heavily on their pressing midfield strategy. It will be intriguing to see which team prevails.
“We know that we’re expecting a really good team coming to Red Bull Arena,” midfielder Daniel Royer said. “Kansas City is a really good team, even though right now they are struggling a little bit. Put them game on our terms and I think then we have a good chance.”
Chris Armas, who lost in his head coaching debut Sunday, felt that encounter prepared the Red Bulls for SKC.
“I think in many ways we’re coming out of a game that prepares us for the next game,” he said. “You can learn from that game in some ways, but then just from the specific team that there isn’t a team that can pass the ball and space and spread out over the field and can manipulate with different movements and rotations. And it didn’t look it the other day because that just wasn’t the type of game it was going to be against us on that field, but our prep going into it and understanding the opponents.
“Kansas City poses very similar challenges. We know them well. We got to face off a couple times last year and of course the Open Cup final, so we have a lot of respect for them. Clearly you see week in and week out why they’re arguably the best team in the league. We’ll be prepared to battle with them and on our home field we always like our chances. We push games, we’re aggressive, and we’re going to go for it at home. Big three points is in our plans.”
But its more about the Red Bulls than SKC.
“As always, our habits, staying to our principles, staying connected with the entire team, everybody’s on the same page, everybody wants to think the same, everybody wants to achieve the same thing,” he said. “That’s the way we play. We want to win back balls, we want to play forward as quickly as possible, but also don’t run into an open knife.”