|The Red Bulls celebrate. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Red Bulls' surge continues as they rolled past Real Salt Lake, 4-0, on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena, with all four of their goals coming in a 25-minute span in the second half.
The Red Bulls are now unbeaten in their last five matches (four wins and a draw) and have won six of their last eight games (six wins, one draw, one loss).
They are now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 7-3-7, with 24 points.
Montreal also has 24 points with an identical 7-3-7 record, but the Red Bulls have the edge over them because their goal differential is +9, while Montreal's is -8, so basically a 17-goal difference. The Red Bulls and Philadelphia both have a +9 goal differential, the best in the East.
In the first half, the Red Bulls did everything but score, as they pounded in 10 shots and had 60.7 percent possession.
The second half was a different story. In the 58th minute, Michael Amir Murillo was able to break the scoreless tie as he sent a ball towards net that was redirected by RSL's Marcelo Silva for an own goal to make it 1-0 Red Bulls.
Just over a minute later, Sean Davis connected with Kaku, who threaded a pass into the box for
Daniel Royer, who took two touches and finished to the far post to double the lead in the 59th minute.
Royer now has 27 career league goals, surpassing John Wolyniec for seventh on the franchise's scoring list.
Murillo, again, threatened inside the box as he dribbled towards the middle and finished in a crowded space to raise the lead to three, 3-0, in the 64th minute.
This was Murillo's first goal of the season and he became the 16th different player to score a goal in a league match. They had 14 different scorers in all of 2018.
For the second-straight match, Omir Fernandez came on as a sub and scored a goal, this one in the 83rd minute, to polish off a 4-0 win.
Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas said of their three goals in a seven-minute span, "Well, listen, I think the story continues. This team is a real team and they stick together and they play for each other. They run for each other, and this has been building. I mentioned it recently. The Atlanta game wasn't a starting point, we said. It was a result of guys putting in a lot, and all of us doing a lot, right. That's what it was.
"So now you see a team that we think looks much like us to start the game and control the game in the ways that we want it to, but of course, I mean, I think we all know that goals do a lot for a team. They do a lot for the belief that you can play a little more free. Confidence grows. You start seeing the balls look around a bit more. Guys committing numbers, and again, that's fun to be part of when you're out there, and from the sideline, from us, the spectators, the supporters, that's a lot of fun to watch. So it does a lot for the team. It's the best part of the game. The goalkeepers, 100-yards -- celebrate, it's the best part of the game."
On if the goal spurt felt inevitable with how they controlled the first half, Armas said, "Yeah, it's much of what we spoke about at halftime, and what -- coming into the game, we thought it could look like that. We'll have the ball. We're prepared to have the ball, and in our training sessions and the way we mapped out the beak but always when you have the ball -- when you lose the ball, that sets up the competition's strength.
"So in the first half, we did have a feeling that the goal was coming. You could see it. Guys were getting good stops on the field. Like there's moments we could come down on the first half or show up but we don't want that to creep in too much where it becomes a pass-around. We still wanted to be aggressive. We had a lot of guys running around their back line and we had a lot of guys still looking forward, and then you just have to talk about, all right, what does that mean now -- the counter-pressing, controlling space, be ready for those. The belief was there at halftime. The energy was right, a couple little adjustments, and it was fun to watch the guys have fun."
Prior to this match, the Red Bulls had not scored a goal against RSL in the last two matches. This is the 22nd time they tallied four goals or more at Red Bull Arena in a league match. Five of the Red Bulls' last 13 goals have been scored by a defender.
Red Bulls Captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles recorded three saves for his second consecutive clean sheet and 67th career.
Robles tallied his 107th league win to move into a tie with Scott Garlick for seventh all-time in MLS.
This was Real Salt Lake Head Coach Mike Petke's first time back at Red Bull Arena coaching against his former team since he was dismissed five years ago. He said of his return, "The chapter's been closed, you know, as far as me. With the supporter, it's never going to be closed, you know, and it was great to see them. I was honored that they didn't boo me and they had some nice things to say. Again, I said it numerous times, they are always going to be in my heart and I'm always going to have a good relationship with them."
Petke said of the game, "Generally, first half, was exactly how we wanted to play it with a couple exceptions. Our organization was good. Our structure was good. We know, as everybody does, exactly what the strengths are Red Bull and they do it very well. I thought we dealt with that -- we had about five -- we had about four to five good transition opportunities that we were a bit sloppy on. They were things that we talked about yesterday.
"Coming out the second half, it was a completely different game. Our organization, our structure was off. We left too many goals and gaps. Three of the four goals came down our left side due to either miscommunication or positioning of certain players, and against a team like this, if you're not -- if you're not structured right, they want to make you pay, and they did, three goals in seven minutes."
Another former Red Bulls Head Coach, Jesse Marsch, was in the building as well, and Armas said of seeing his two predecessors, "It's always -- a few times a year I get to see Mike, it's good. We go way back as youth soccer players on Long Island. I think we are both proud of each other, the careers we had as players and now as coaches. That's the exchange we had, and I think that will remain the same. So it's always good to see him, and it's home for him, New York, this building, people that we respect -- who he is and the work he's done. It's good to see him.
"With Jesse being in the building, when I saw him before, it's not -- it's almost emotional, seeing him back here. Because I know he's -- I'm watching him, the work that he did this year. I've known him for a long time. It's a real reflection on him, the person that he is, the soccer person that he is, to go over there and help RB Leipzig to a Cup final, and I know he was a big part of that. There's no doubt about it.
"So yes, for me, it was extra special because Jesse was here. Just having him here, getting to see up close the work that we're doing; that he can feel so part of that and proud of that, I think he has to feel good about that.
"So yeah, for me, that made this night a little extra special for me. To get the three points, at home, to do it the way we did it, in a convincing manner, probably our most complete performance of the year in front of -- reward our spectators and our supporters, to reward the entire team, the staff, the players, the extended staff. They have put so much work into this, and of course, Jesse is part of that."
The Red Bulls head South down I-95 to face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, June 8 at Talen Energy Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.