Jul 21, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) and New England Revolution defender Antonio Dalamea Mlinar (19) chase the ball during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Adams has carved out a role as an elite young defensive midfielder, both for club and country, but the 19-year-old was utilized in an unfamiliar role Saturday night as a right midfielder.
The idea by coach Chris Armas was two-fold. He wanted to get Marc Rzatkowski a deserved start after he came off the bench to score a late brace in a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City a week earlier. The German midfielder is more comfortable in the center of the park, so Armas had Rzatkowski play Adams’ position and asked Adams to move out to the right to try and reduce the effectiveness of Revs winger Cristian Penilla.
“Anytime you play a new position, it takes a little time to see what the game gives you,” Adams said. “Obviously in this game, it didn’t really give you anything because they were so congested in every part of the field. So, getting on the ball was tough, and obviously making plays in certain parts of the field was hard. I found myself dropping a little deeper to try and get touches on the ball. Still, defensively it’s pretty easy. It’s just attacking is weird drifting in and checking in off the flank.
“I thought he did great, with and without the ball, up the field and then we moved him upside the field as a No 10 and he did great there,” Armas said. “He’s a gem. Tyler is incredible.”
PK? No way
After scoring the 99th MLS regular season goal, Bradley Wright-Phillips had a chance to reach the century mark when referee Ismail Elfath pointed to the penalty spot after ruling Antonio Delamea handled a close-range shot by Michael Amir Murillo.
As the Revs argued the initial decision and Elfath went to Video Review, the ball was tucked under Wright-Phillips arm. The initial call was reversed, but to Wright-Phillips’ delight.
“If I’m being totally honest, it’s the 100th goal and I didn’t want to score it on a penalty,” Wright-Phillips said. “I thought about giving it to Derrick, but I didn’t want people to think I was scared. When [the referee] said no, I was kind of happy.”
So does Wright-Phillips have a preference for goal 100?
“Bicycle kick from the halfway line,” he said. “If it’s a penalty I would take it, but I’d rather it be from an open play.”
Long battles through
Aaron Long has been a rock in central defense this season, and when he starts a game, as has been the case 17 times this season, he plays the entire 90 minutes. Saturday night, though, was the exception.
Long left the match in the 65th minute, replaced by veteran Aurélien Collin. Initially it was thought that Long, who headed off the crossbar in the 2nd minute, came off for tactical reasons. He was booked in the 30th minute and Armas didn’t want to risk a sending off.
But Armas said after the game Long had an upset stomach, but still gutted things out in another solid performance.
“He’s always tough to play against. He’s incredible back there,” Armas said. “Even after the game, you just say, Aaron, the way he stepped up and battled through when he wasn’t feeling that great, and so often he’s covering us and has our back, and tonight our guys stepped up and covered him and really were behind him to make sure that they can help him along.”