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Red Bulls ready to open Red Bull Arena this weekend against Nashville

photo by Matt Kremkau

by Daniel Feuerstein

This weekend is the start of the 2023 home schedule for the New York Red Bulls and that means the crown jewel of American Soccer Stadiums in Red Bull Arena will be ready for all of us to enter and enjoy a brand new year with some big expectations to having one of the best home field advantages for this club in red.

"Yeah, on Saturday, we want to bring a big power in this game. A good spirit a good energy, and every single player should leave everything on the field. I think this is so, the basement for success and this is my expectation." said Gerhard Struber, "I think maybe we can build our foundation, our typical game of football, then it's difficult sometimes, and on the same time, we expect the team to have peak power in transition moments. This means for us they will stay maybe also deep in our block. We need patience in this game. To handle moments, maybe they are not too easy in a game. 

That we are caught again and again against them with a good possession game and also with a good transition game. And this means in the end, a good performance and a great result to give us confidence. This gives us the conviction. This is of course, important that we want to show this but, first of all, it's important that we have a big focus in our performance. This is what can be planned. I think the result is not so easy to plan, but the performance I think is in our hands and this is what we can plan in this direction. We give a lot of power."

Even though it looks like they might not have super striker Hany Muhktar ready to go to be a starter, it's going to be a very difficult side to score against with the US International Center back Walker Zimmerman anchoring that backline to keep the ball out of their net. Gary Smith's side will be very difficult to match up against as his players will find a way to earn the full three points.

Even though the Red Bulls lost on the road to Orlando City on a controversial penalty called against them, they did perform very well in the brand new formation and showed two strikers instead of one as both Tom Barlow and Elias Manoel were paired up top to perform in the attacking runs for the club. Struber feels very confident to change up the formation to bolster the attack.

"Yes, of course, I think maybe bringing more numbers in the opponent's box is always the higher chance to score." said Struber, "I like to play with two strikers, but it also depends on which one is available which one is a good fit together, but I think in this season, we are very flexible with a high variability with the shape. We can play in different systems and yeah, this makes us hopefully unpredictable, but of course, we have right now enough strikers and by now we should play in the next time with two strikers."

Cameron harper has been a pleasant surprise for the Red Bulls since the start of last season, You can plug him into the match as an attacking player, or on the backline as a fullback. He's been successful no matter where he is located on the pitch. We've seen some fantastic goals last season, when he blasted one on the road in Austin, or when he was at home against the Chicago Fire where Gaga Slonina couldn't handle his shot. He looked very dangerous attacking and defending down the right side as a fullback and looked comfortable doing it.

"Yeah, it's not too different. For me. I think it was something that I worked on a good amount last year, I think when I broke into the team and breaking in as a wingback. And you know, it's fun it is to be able to do the offensive stuff." said Cameron Harper "You know, you have to do all of the defensive stuff in your locker if you want to play wing-back, and that's something I really had to work on and just stay mentally sharp and in moments where you can get picked off. If you're not focused. 

And I think it's just kind of taken a little bit of an adaptation to get there and I think last year I was lucky enough to play there and I'm ready to play whatever position whenever and the gaffer put me there against Montreal and I just tried to repay him by you know, showing him, the trust he had to me I he can trust me again and whenever he needs me he can put me wherever he needs and just tried to do my best the same in Orlando and thought I did alright."

The excitement to begin the home part of the schedule will start this weekend and I can't wait to see this roster go out on the pitch and perform in front of the most loyal and passionate supporters this league has ever known since the first season of 1996. Let's see if the boys can pick up their first victory of the season and make some noise at home.


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