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New York Red Bulls switch formation in 1-1 draw against New England Revolution

Here are three things we learned from the New York Red Bulls 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution

Aug 17, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) reacts after a save by New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner (30) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

HARRISON, N.J. — Danny Royer walked into the locker room following a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution encouraged because the New York Red Bulls looked like themselves.

In terms of aggression, especially in the attacking third, and playing the game on their terms, Royer was right. But not when it relates to the formation utilized for much of the game.

The Red Bulls shed the usual 4-2-3-1 formation and rolled out a two-striker look with Royer playing as the second striker, first to Brian White and then with Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Red Bulls coach Chris Armas went with two strikers early in the second, a 2-1 home loss to Minnesota United April 6.

“I think previously it hasn’t really looked good, but I think tonight it was really good,” Wright-Phillips said. “Brian and Danny looked good from the beginning and we created chances all through the game.”

Royer made the tactical switch, moving from his usual spot on the wing to a more central role. The result was a whopping 10 shots, including four on frame.

“I’m obviously more central than compared to when I play winger. I think I can support the other striker whether its [Brian White] or Brad,” Royer said. “I think it gave us more options when we win the ball to play forward. We can go forward more aggressively because we are more central in the field, we can have deep runs, we can have one player checking in, one player running deep. I think that worked really well.”

BWP inches closer

Since being sidelined for two months with a groin injury, Wright-Phillips has made nine substitute appearances, none longer than 26 minutes.

That changed Saturday night when White went down with an ankle injury in the first half. Wright-Phillips came on late in the first half and played a total of 61 minutes.

“Surprisingly good,” Wright Phillips said of how he felt after an extended run. “I was worried not getting much of a warm-up, but it helped that I got in a little bit in the first half. Obviously not good circumstances with Brian going down injured, but it helped I got the little 15 minutes or 20 minutes to get me kind of warmed up.”

Wright-Phillips said a scrimmage Wednesday against West Point, which Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said was essentially set up for the star striker, was a big help, but he didn’t feel that way after the scrimmage.

“That was actually harder than today. How I felt In the scrimmage against West Point, I was scared,” Wright-Phillips said. “I thought man, I wasn’t moving great. I wasn’t moving too good. But coming into today I felt sharp, I feel a little bit more like myself.”

Wright-Phillips called this season “very frustration,” because he’s been a mainstay in the lineup since signing with the Red Bulls midway through the 2013 season. Easing things has been quality performances from White and Tom Barlow.

But after Saturday’s performance, Wright-Phillips believes he’s ready for his first start since April 20 with a double-game week ahead against D.C. United at Audi Field Wednesday and at New York City FC next Saturday.

“II would hope so. It depends how I’m training and how I’m looking, what Chris sees,” Wright-Phillips said. “I think tonight I answered a few questions they’ll probably want me to answer. Obviously not putting the ball in the back of the net, but being in those areas and feeling sharp.”

Having Buckmaster’s back

Armas went with an unchanged starting XI from the team that lost to LAFC last Sunday. That included rookie Rece Buckmaster at right back. It wasn’t just about a vote of confidence for a player he defended that night after his foul led to a Carlos Vela penalty kick in the second half.

After Saturday’s draw against the Revs, Armas was questioned why Buckmaster started in place of Michael Amir Murillo.

“None of you probably know who Rece Buckmaster is, but for three games now — you’d probably say we should have won tonight, we beat Toronto in his MLS debut and LAFC, we were pretty good — and he probably outplayed [Diego] Rossi, one of the best wingers in the league,” Armas said. “I’m glad we’re talking about Rece because he might have been our best player tonight on the field. … we see him as a lock down outside back. You just can’t get by him, so why would I not play Rece, that’s the question. Why wouldn’t you play Rece all the time?  I think that’s what it should be. “

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