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Rzatkowski Stars as Red Bulls Come From Behind

Marc Rzatkowski celebrates after scoring against Sporting Kansas City.  Credit to New York Red Bulls

Harrison, NJ—July 14th, 2018– A brace off the bench by midfielder Marc Rzatkowski and an opening goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips got the New York Red Bulls back in the win column over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night by the score of 3-2.  The rematch of last years U.S. Open Cup Final was also the first victory for new Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas in his second game in charge after losing to NYCFC last weekend.  The long time Red Bulls assistant took over the top job in New York after manager Jesse Marsch accepted an assistant coaching position with RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga after 4-plus years in charge.  However, Armas showed the same savvy for bringing players off the bench that his former boss seemed to have during the match Saturday.

The Red Bulls got off to a quick start in the fourth minute with a little help from VAR.  Kaku fed Bradley Wright-Phillips with a through-ball into the box that was chipped in by the English striker but was originally waved off for offside.  However, after review, it was revealed that the Red Bulls all-time leading striker was indeed onside and finished off his 12th goal of the season to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.  Sporting Kansas City would answer almost immediately four minutes later when Graham Zusi smashed a low cross across the box from the right that was tapped home by Scottish forward Johnny Russell.  New York almost took the lead right back in the ninth minute when Wright-Phillips fired a shot across the face of goal and just wide.  The visitors almost took the lead for themselves when a lightly hit back pass by Tim Parker meant for goalkeeper Luis Robles, provided a golden opportunity for Daniel Salloi.  But a scrambling effort by Robles and a block by Aaron Long saved the Red Bull defender’s blushes.

The end to end action continued for a majority of the first half in was a truly frenetic pace at times.  In the 38th minute the Red Bulls got another great look at goal when a cross from the right by Alex Muyl found Bradley Wright-Phillips at the near post but his attempted shot high near side went just over Tim Melia’s goal.  Just a minute later SKC would have another look of their own as Russell’s attempt at a second goal curled just wide of Robles’ left-hand post.

Just three minutes into the second half New York almost took the lead again when Alex Muyl got the ball in the box on the left side, but his powerful shot was forced wide by Tim Melia.  It would be the visitors that would take the lead in the 51st minute.  Former USMNT midfielder Graham Zusi passed the ball to the top of the box from the end line to a wide-open Roger Espinosa.  The Honduran midfielder made no mistake firing a bullet into the roof of the net from 24 yards to make it 2-1.  SKC almost made it 3-1 when a long curling cross from the left by Yohan Croizet found Salloi, but his volley was sent high over the crossbar and into the stands.

In the 59th minute, Chris Armas went to his bench twice to try to shift the momentum.  The new manager had been highly criticized for only using one substitute in his first match against NYCFC and not doing so until the 87th minute after his team had gone down 1-0.  However, this time Armas brought on Derrick Etienne Jr. for Muyl and replaced Kaku with German international Marc Rzatkowski, a move that while initially questioned would turn out to be profound by the end of the 90 minutes.

With just 18 minutes to go, Tyler Adams played the ball from the right side of the penalty area to the top of the 18 yard box.  Rzatkowski fired the one-timer with authority and his low shot swerved away from Melia and into the back of the net.  Just seven minutes later and after a couple of near misses by Daniel Royer and Tyler Adams, it would be Rzatkowski again from distance that would provide the decisive strike.  Sean Davis played a pass to the top of the penalty area out of the midfield, and after one touch, the Red Bulls number 90 fired a rocket with his left foot just off the fingertips of the Kansas City goalkeeper and into the top corner.  The goals were the first two of the season and the first two in MLS for Rzatkowski who is on loan for the season from RB Leipzig in Germany.  New York would almost add more tallies to the scoresheet in the last five minutes when Michael Murillo, in his first game action with the Red Bulls since representing Panama in the FIFA World Cup, fired a shot just over the net and into the Red Bulls supporters from a corner kick.  In stoppage time, Daniel Royer fired a low shot to the left post, but his effort was controlled by Melia and just seconds later, Derrick Etienne Jr. almost scored his fourth goal of the season, but his stinging low shot went just past the post.  But in the end the damage by Rzatkowski would be enough for a 3-2 victory.

The third place Red Bulls will be back in action at home next Saturday when they face a revived New England Revolution team that have surpassed all expectations this season currently sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference.  New York will look to continue their recent good form against the Revs, who they defeated both times in the regular season in 2017.  It will then be a quick turnaround for Chris Armas and his team as they will travel to original MLS rivals D.C. United on Wednesday for the first time this season.

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