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New York coach Chris Armas feels numbers are in Red Bulls’ favor

Mar 2, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas talks to New York Red Bulls midfielder Omir Fernandez (21) during the second half against the Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium. (Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports)

HANOVER, N.J. — New York Red Bulls coach Chris Armas says all the numbers, or analytics, are positive — except the standings that show three straight losses.

“It’s close,” Armas said after the Red Bulls’ training session Tuesday. “What we don’t do is cloud what we’re looking at. We know what we’re looking at, and in the end we have to be better. You can talk about analytics, we’re not giving up a lot.

“Teams are capitalizing, but we’re right where we want to be in so many ways with our style of play. [We’ve] scored six, [we’ve] given up six. We’re 1-3-1 with that, with that goals scored and goals conceded. We’re 1, 2 or 3 in the entire league with shots conceded and shots on goal conceded, and we’re playing much how we wanted, we’re playing balls forward, we’re being vertical, we’re being narrow, we are, we’re counter-pressing, we’re doing all the things against the ball.”

Defensively, New York has only allowed more than a goal in a game once so far this year, on Saturday in a 2-1 home loss to Minnesota United FC. But of the six goals the team has scored, four came in its second match, a 4-1 rout of San Jose.

And when you’re not scoring, you’re certainly not scoring first.

“When we score the first goal, things will change too,” Armas said. “It does put pressure on our team. Last year, in 34 games we scored first in 25. That does a lot for your team, psychologically, and just tactically.”

The Red Bulls were 21-2-2 when scoring first last year, en route to winning their third Supporters’ Shield.

“We’ve been so comfortable in the past controlling games without the ball, and we’re getting better controlling games with the ball,” Armas said. “So can we still, now, when we have the ball, have more ideas, how to play it quickly, how to play forward, how to put it on your terms where we’re still comfortable, and not getting lulled into these longer possessions, where, we’re not great at that over time.”

Besides the numbers Armas has been looking at, a glaring statistic haunting the Red Bulls is that until Saturday, the team hadn’t lost three straight matches since May 2017, four straight since April 2016 and had never lost three straight at home in league play since Red Bull Arena opened in 2010.

“What we have to do right now is not lose any more games at home,” said defender Kemar Lawrence, who has returned to the lineup since his knee injury sidelined him during last year’s playoffs. “Because this is where we play our best football, so I feel like we’re going to get right.”

The Red Bulls players echo Armas’ confidence that it’s just a matter of a few balls bouncing their way.

“It’s just waiting. The goals are going to come,” said Marcus Epps, added to the squad in December’s waiver draft. “We work on this every day. We’re getting tons of reps getting forward, we’ve just been unlucky the past couple of games, but you can see we are putting teams under pressure, we’re getting in danger areas, the final third, and I think the goals will come.”

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