Red Bulls, New York Red Bulls

Red Bulls ring in the 2022 MLS season with win over San Jose

The New York Red Bulls kicked off the 2022 Major League Soccer (MLS) season with an emphatic 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on the road and despite recent reports linking English Premier League (EPL) Striker to RBNY, Patryk Klimala reminded Red Bulls fans of his abilities.

On Saturday, the New York Red Bulls were on the road to face a San Jose Earthquakes team that is playing its first season without long-time striker, Chris Wondolowski who played all 13 of his MLS seasons with the Earthquakes and was able to score 171 goals, which is the MLS record for goals scored by a single player in MLS history.

The Earthquakes took the field understanding that the 2022 MLS season was the start of a new era in their club's 27-year history and that is not too much different from how the Red Bulls were looking at the start of the current MLS season because-- Red Bull had a tumultuous offseason to put it mildly.

Between the departure of Head of Sport Kevin Thelwell, just days before the team's first game of the new season and the fact that the team would have to play its first game without offseason signing Luquinhas or Tom Edwards who was a key player for the club in 2021, it was enough to drive Red Bulls fans up a wall.

Nevertheless, the tumultuous end to the Red Bull offseason did not dampen the team's spirits in their opening game, because Head Coach Gerhard Struber and captain Aaron Long both ensured the team would be ready to go on Saturday and make the start of the new MLS season felt by their supporters.

A Tight First Half in California

After a slow opening 20 minutes, the Red Bulls got their wings in the 20th minute. Frankie Amaya took a corner kick from the left flag and his service was not cleared by a Quakes defender, which allowed the loose ball to fall to Red Bull center-back, Sean Nealis. The six-foot, four-inch defender corralled the ball nicely and took a hard low shot that rolled straight up to a kneeling earthquakes goalkeeper, J.T. Marcinkowski. It was the beginning of a busy afternoon for the San Jose goalkeeper.

Last season, Patryk Klimala took a while to get going as a Red Bull player. The reason for this was that his transfer from Scottish team, Celtic FC was delayed until mid-April, which forced 'Patty' to take a while to settle in with his new team. However, when Patty brought himself up to speed, the assertive forward managed to lead the team with eight goals while also providing seven assists.

The weirdest moment of the first half came on a Red Bull counterattack. Once again at the center of the action was the skilled midfielder, Yearwood who took possession of the ball in midfield and with Red Bulls running forward, sent a through ball forward for Chatham-native, John Tolkin.

Tolkin took the ball in stride, but before he had a chance to set his feet, San Jose's goalkeeper rushed out and swept the ball away, while Tolkin tripped and flew in the air for a few seconds. Despite all that frustration, the Red Bulls were able to get the game's first goal.

In the time that was added at the end of the first 45 minutes, offseason signing, Lewis Morgan received a pass from Fernandez inside San Jose's 18-yard-box. The 25-year-old  sent a low cross to the near post. Patryk Klimala was waiting there, and without trapping the ball, took a one-time chip-shot that went over Marcinkowski's outstretched arms and into the net, giving New York it's first lead of the 2022 MLS season.

By scoring his team's first goal of the season, Klimala became the 27th different player in the 27-year-history of the New York Red Bulls to do so.

Klimala's goal sent shockwaves through the #RBNY Twitter community, as many accounts would note that the striker had made a bit of franchise history when he scored the first goal in the Red Bull's season opening match in San Jose. That piece of franchise history was that Klimala had become the 27th player in the Red Bulls' 27-year history to score the first goal of a new MLS season for the New York Red Bulls soccer club.

Breaking Through in the Second Half

The second half really acted like a new game. The Red Bulls didn’t carry momentum in from the first half and subbed off Christian Casseres Jr. in the 60th minute, who finished third on the Red Bulls with six goals in 2021. Replacing the Venezuelan was the 19-year-old Caden Clark and in the 61st minute, Clark nearly gave the Red Bulls the lead when Red Bulls midfielder, John Tolkin took a pass and did a 'Ronaldo Chop' that allowed him to move towards the center of the field and passed over to Caden Clark who was standing inside the box near the penalty spot. However, Clark took Tolkin's pass and released a shot that was blocked by San Jose defender, Francisco Calvo.

Then the home team, San Jose seized an opportunity to tie the game. San Jose did this by earning a dangerous free kick located down the left side of the field deep in RBNY territory. Stepping up to take the free kick was midfielder, Christian Espinoza who proceeded to unleash a hard shot towards New York's near-post. Soon after the shot came in, Earthquakes' midfielder, Javier Lopez darted in front of the oncoming shot and was able to change the course of the ball with the back of his head. This crafty move changed the course of Espinoza's shot enough to allow it to enter the net, while Coronel threw up his hands in shock and San Jose had tied the game at 1-1.

It's safe to say that nobody, not even the Red Bulls clairvoyant manager saw that coming. But while San Jose pulled a really cool trick out of their hat to tie the game, the Red Bulls had no plans of taking their foot off the Red Bull Racing pedal. The tiebreaker came from clutch midfielder, Omir Fernandez, who reprised his role from the Hudson River Derby of 2021 to rip a shot through Marcinkowski's legs in the 71st minute and put the Red Bulls back out in front!

In the 74th minute, Struber took off Klimala for Tom Barlow. Then he subbed off Fernandez for a 16-year-old midfielder named Serge Ngoma as well as defensive midfielder, Dru Yearwood for 18-year-old midfielder Daniel Edelman.

Both players made their MLS debuts by entering the game in the 74th minute and it's noteworthy that by entering the game at the age of sixteen, Ngoma tied the Red Bulls franchise record for the youngest player to play in MLS that was set by former Red Bulls midfielder Eddie Gaven, who made his debut for the New York Metrostars on June 14, 2003.

Tom Barlow got in on the goal-scoring party after Caden Clark gave him a great pass while he was running into San Jose's 18-yard-box and Barlow shot the ball past Quakes goalkeeper for his first goal of the season and the eighth goal he has scored as an MLS player and Red Bulls striker. This goal was the icing on the cake that signified the Red Bulls first win of the 2022 MLS season on Saturday in San Jose.

Red Bulls Heading North of the Border

The Red Bulls will stay on the road for their next game, which will be played on Saturday, March 5. Captain Aaron Long and the team will face a Toronto F.C. side that is managed by New Jersey native and three-time, former MLS Coach of the Year, Bob Bradley. 

Toronto FC finished in 13th place, out of the 14 teams that compete in MLS's Eastern Conference, last season. However, when a bad team gets taken over by a manager as accomplished as Bradley the team usually improves. It will be interesting to see how much improvement has been done to Toronto now that Jozy Altidore is no longer with the Canadian club.

Anthony Paradiso
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