The process is beginning to pay off for the New York Red Bulls.
Gerhard Struber earned his first win as head coach Saturday, while teenager Caden Clark added another spectacular finish to his resume as the Red Bulls topped Chicago Fire FC, 2-0, with an energetic second half at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
"Today, the first win gives everyone a very big belief in our way, and especially the performance shows one more time that we are on the right way," Struber said.
After a mostly uneventful 45 minutes, Cristian Cássares Jr. found the net in the 47th to put the Red Bulls ahead with his second goal of the season. The midfielder scored for the second time this season, knocking home a shot from near the penalty spot after receiving a centering pass from Fábio, who pulled multiple defenders out of position with a run to the end line.
Clark dazzled with his 64th-minute insurance goal. As Red Bulls captain Sean Davis floated a delivery toward Fábio in the center of the box, Clark ran toward the penalty spot. With his back to the goal, Fábio settled under it, heading it toward the charging Clark. The 17-year-old slightly adjusted his run and threw a crane kick to volley the ball, which sped past the hopeless Chicago keeper Bobby Shuttleworth for his second of the season and fifth in just 11 career MLS matches.
RBNY’s defense, with Massapequa’s Sean Nealis starting at centerback for the third straight match, earned its first clean sheet of the season. Goalkeeper Carlos Coronel made four saves to win for the first time since his loan from Red Bull Salzburg
The Red Bulls now are 1-2-0 (3 points) after Struber’s first victory, which came in his fourth match spread across two seasons. The Austrian coach took over just in time for RBNY’s playoff opener last November, a loss to the Columbus Crew, and was unsuccessful against Sporting KC and the LA Galaxy to open 2021. A disciple of the energetic, pressing style preached across the Red Bull network of clubs, who was brought to New York to reinstil those ideals on the MLS side, Struber was pleased to see his lessons yield results on Saturday.
"This is the first step," Struber said. "I know that when I speak always about the process this is not the most sexy topic for media, but for me it is very, very important to make the necessary steps and I can see today in our principles against the ball we make a big step today."