There are those who follow MLS who wish the league would get rid of playing on international breaks. For me, it is more nuanced than simply ending these games. The loss for Minnesota is an example of both sides of the argument.
Minnesota United FC came to New York missing five of their usual starters. Francisco Calvo, Michael Boxall, and Rasmus Schüller were on international duty. In their place, Coach Adrian Heath put Brent Kallman and rookie Dartmouth product Wyatt Omsberg at the center back positions and Collen Warner in midfield. In the two full back spots, Marc Burch and rookie Carter Manley had to step in to fill in for injuries to Jérôme Thiesson and Tyrone Mears.
The rest of the field players and goalkeeper were the same. Matt Lampson was in goal, with Ibson in the midfield. Miguel Ibarra was again the number 10, while Ethan Finlay and Sam Nicholson played on the wings. Christian Ramirez was up top as the striker.
Due to international duty absences, two rookies in Omsberg and Manley were given match minutes. Much like how European teams will have the league and FA cups to give extra, competitive minutes to their young players, the international breaks are a chance for MLS teams to give minutes to players who otherwise would find it hard to get on the field.
The match started out tepid for Minnesota, almost as if they were expecting New York to pull ahead. It did not take long.
In the 15th minute, Muyl scored for the Red Bulls. Given too much space at the top of the box, he placed it perfectly inside the far post, just past the outstretched hands of Lampson.
While Minnesota tried to keep it even, the Loons could never seem to make the pass that would break New York’s defense. They kept sending the ball down the right side, but the cross could never connect with a Loon in the center of the field.
It would be Wright-Phillips who would find the second goal of the match. After a long ball flicked on into the box caught Lampson in space, Wright-Phillips touched it up and over Lampson.
New York almost went up by three before the half, but a favorable call and a great save by Lampson kept the score at only 2-0.
Minnesota entered the break clearly the worse team in the half. Would they recover and fight back like they did against San Jose?
New York came out playing at the same level that they ended the half with. Wright-Phillips sent a shot off the post in the early going, and the Red Bulls never looked out of control.
Minnesota could not muster much in the way of offense, and never really tested the New York Red Bulls.
Wright-Phillips finished the night’s scoring. Muyl had one of the best assists of the season with a beautifully curved ball, perfectly weighted for the onrushing Wright-Phillips, who waited for Lampson to go to ground before putting the ball into the back of the net for the second time of the night.
After the match, Heath was very displeased with the team. Speaking with sideline reporter Jamie Watson, Heath made it clear that the team did not play well. “I was disappointed with a number of individual performances,” he said. “They [Red Bulls] wanted to win more.”
While the team featured a number of young, inexperienced players playing one of the strongest sides in MLS away from home, Heath placed the blame on the players’ desire.
Who will get the starting nod next week against Atlanta United? With a number of players back after the international break, Heath might be tempted to make more changes after the loss to the Red Bulls.
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