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New York Red Bulls look to rebound from identity crisis

Mar 17, 2018; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake players celebrate a goal scored on a penalty kick shot by midfielder Albert Rusnak (11) against the New York Red Bulls during the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

HANOVER, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls consider it a 90-minute identity crisis.

Win or lose, the club wants to look like themselves, but they said that wasn’t the case last week in a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake — the club’s first defeat in six overall matches in 2018.

“I think we are a little disappointed with our play against Salt Lake because we really did not look like us,” defender Connor Lade said after training on Thursday. “We weren’t really happy the way we came out, kind of playing with the ball and not playing against the ball and not doing the things that make us good.”

Midfielder Sean Davis, who missed the RSL match with a tweaked ankle, called the defeat “humbling.”

“It was an important step, a reality check and now we’re really focused on three points on Saturday,” Davis said.

Davis trained fully this week, meaning the Red Bulls will have a clean bill of health when they host Minnesota United FC Saturday at 7 p.m. That’s not to say, though, the Red Bulls are at full strength.

 

The squad is missing three regular starters — fullbacks Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo and midfielder Tyler Adams — as well as reserve center back Fidel Escobar to international duty. That means the Red Bulls depth, which was on full display in a 4-0 thrashing of the Portland Timbers in their MLS opener on March 10, will again be key against a Loons squad that has won back-to-back games for the second time in their short MLS history.

“I am excited for the opportunity for some of the guys and even playing a few guys last week like Kyle Duncan, giving him the opportunity to continue to move forward in a good way,” Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said. “I think our team will be ready and be clear and that is somewhat what we went through today, a bit in video we were talking about what we want the weekend to look like and executing it a little bit in training. So I feel that our group will be ready to go and I am excited for some new guys to get an opportunity.”

The Red Bulls have two big things going for them Saturday night. Since Red Bull Arena opened in 2010, they have the best home record in MLS, with the most home wins (85) and points (285).

They are also 15-10-6 all-time following a loss under Marsch.

Luis Robles, who has played in 176 consecutive regular season games, knows better than most what the Red Bulls should look like.

“That’s guys on the move, counter pressing, winning the ball up high, creating chances,” he said.

The Red Bulls captain expects that to to be the case on Saturday night.

“It’s very important that we play the game on our terms and that we look like us,” Robles said. “When we’re able to do that it makes it very difficult for whoever we play against.”

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