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New York Red Bulls wary of Matias Almeyda-coached San Jose Earthquakes

Apr 10, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; Guadalajara head coach Matias Almeyda reacts during the first half against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

HANOVER, N.J. — New York Red Bulls winger Danny Royer can’t remember another time he faced a team that used a man-marking defensive approach all over the field.

That is, of course, with the exception of the Concacaf Champions League semifinals a year ago.

That’s when Matias Almeyda helped lead Guadalajara past the Red Bulls by the slimmest of margins in the semifinals en route to winning the title on penalty kicks over Toronto FC.

Almeyda is hoping to bring that winning pedigree to the San Jose Earthquakes. But first, he’s bringing his unique defensive ideas.

“I remember the Chivas games and it’s tough,” Royer said. “When your guy is always running with you, you’ve got to be really active, you’ve got to be smart, especially collectively. So we’re gonna find out how to break them down in the best way.”

Almeyda’s hire marked a new era for the Quakes. And although the wins haven’t come just yet — San Jose has lost its first two games of the regular season — Red Bulls coach Chris Armas knows Saturday’s MLS home opener against Almeyda’s squad won’t be a walk in the park.

“His teams are hard to play against,” he said. “They don’t give up much and there’s always creativity on the other side of the ball. He’s a great coach with clear ideas so we’ll be challenged.”

Armas called Almeyda’s defensive tactics “unique,” but the Red Bulls have the advantage of preparing for that style a year ago.

“Different parts of the field and different moments of the game, teams man mark whether it’s even sometimes in pressing or even in the final third that you’re running with guys but how they do that all over the field is interesting and often times very effective,” Armas said. “It has its soft spots, I’d say, that we’ll try to expose, but it certainly makes sure and everything.”

The match against the Earthquakes will be a chance for the Red Bulls to cleanse their palate from a bitter loss to Santos Laguna in the CCL quarterfinals Tuesday night in Torreon.

“i think it might be a little refreshing to be back in our building, start the MLS [home] season, have a good start, build on things we did well here, look at stuff we did wrong and try and turn the page,” defender Aaron Long said on Tuesday night. “I think it’s a good thing for us.”

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