Gerhard Struber hopes that he will get an opportunity to celebrate a goal this week. (USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Three games, two points, and one goal.
Not the best of countdowns.
The Red Bulls (0-1-2) haven’t gotten off to the best of starts this MLS season.
They finally found the net in their 1-1 draw at Minnesota United after suffering two shutouts.
New York’s defense – backline, goalkeeper and team – has been quite sound, and yes, defense wins soccer games, as that old saying goes. But you need to score goals, at least some goals, to win those matches.
Perhaps the 12th-place Red Bulls’ fortunes will change when they host the ninth-place Columbus Crew (1-1-1, 4) at Red Bull Arena at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
They certainly cannot afford another blanking and worse, anything less than three points at home. They played Nashville SC to a scoreless draw in their RBA opener on March 4.
There are concerns in many places, but not with Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber.
“I think it’s not the moment to cry or moan everyday about that,” he said during a Thursday media Zoom call “It’s more the situation to see the half the glass I would say half full and not half empty. This is my absolute conviction. My boys have a big they feel a big trust and in this direction. I think it’s we are very, very close to starting our score moments.”
He had liked what he had seen in training.
“In the whole week, I see many players to find the training,” Struber said in broken English. “The most important thing is that we bring our training power in the in the game. I think it was also the last few games very close to coming in the in the necessary score a moment, but we have to do it on Saturday. I have a good feeling that we are ready. The training week looks good, and I hope we can realize on Saturday good moments against Columbus.”
Andres Reyes has tallied the lone Red Bulls goal this season.
Struber didn’t think the team’s inability to put the ball into the net with affect the Red Bulls psychologically.
“It’s important that we make the situation not bigger than what it is,” he said. I think we have a situation [where] we have a lot of trust in our strikers, and we have a lot of strikers at the moment, very good attackers. I think it’s important at the moment that they believe to score is on a high level … Of course, we have to realize that in a game.”
The Red Bulls’ biggest offseason signing was 24-year-old striker Dante Vanzeir. He was brought in to replace the underachieving Patryk Klimala, who was considered a failure during his tenure.
Vanzeir hasn’t made much of an impact yet. Struber has worked the Belgium standout into the lineup slowly.
After missing the season-opening 1-0 loss at Orlando City SC on Feb. 25, Vanzeir played 14 minutes against Nashville and another 25 vs. Minnesota. He should get more playing time on Saturday night, whether it is off the bench or as a starter, it remains to be seen.
“We [work] very hard every day with him from the physical standpoint, but also that he understands more and more what we want in our philosophy,” Struber said. “In this direction, I think he is growing. But also we can see the the big gap of team trainings in the last few weeks.
“I want to bring him in in the game when he is absolutely ready to be a starter and not that we go in risky moments. … We go a little bit longer for this next upcoming game and then we go step by step. I think the progress is good. But we have to be smart in this direction and not [be] over-motivated.”