Stats Zone: Set pieces and pressing key Red Bulls to record-tying defeat of NYCFC

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The seven-goal margin maxed the largest in Major League Soccer history. Christian Araos breaks down how the Red Bulls dismantled their rivals:

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Flying high after a six-game unbeaten streak, the Pigeons crashed Saturday afternoon.

Then New York City FC was trampled by a New York Red Bull stampede. Once it was finished, the second-year club became the third team in MLS to lose by seven goals.

The 7–0 final was both decisive and emblematic of NYCFC’s flaws and the Red Bulls’ pros. City conceded five times from set pieces, while the Red Bulls created two goals with their press.

New York City may remain above the Red Bulls in the standings, but New York has never been redder.

Red Bull tactics work in Yankee Stadium

The Red Bulls’ biggest problem was their biggest asset Saturday afternoon. Everyone in the world knows the Red Bulls look to create chances pressing up the field. While that has led to others teams dropping deep and letting them have possession, NYCFC’s commitment to playing out of the back destroyed them once again.

None of Red Bull's goals came from a spell of possession. Bradley Wright-Phillips’ first came from Mike Grella’s work. Minutes later, Grella was first to recover a long corner, and his cross was nodded across the box for Wright-Phillips to make it 3-0.

NYCFC can’t play its way out

City’s commitment to playing out of the back would be more appreciated if its failures weren’t so catastrophic. But the tactical story of this rivalry has been how successful the Red Bulls are at preventing NYCFC from playing how they want, especially at Yankee Stadium.

Jesse Marsch drills his side on positioning while pressing and he made sure the Red Bulls practiced on a narrow field on the lead-up to the match. With the Red Bulls clogging NYCFC’s passing lanes, the home team was forced to play long balls over the top.

When NYCFC plays the midfield trio of Federico Bravo, Mikey Lopez and Andrea Pirlo, it does so to provide cover for Pirlo, allowing him to initiate attacking moves. But Bravo and Lopez couldn’t get upfield and Pirlo was unable to get the ball.

Villa kept in pocket

With New York City unable to get the ball through its midfield, the team had to rely on its defenders to lump long balls over the top for David Villa. Though Villa is able to run onto balls played in the channels, he can’t beat defenders in the air. Aurelien Collin was able to physically mark Villa while Chris Duvall, normally a fullback, had the pace to cover on any balls played diagonally. Villa’s only shot in the box came off of a loose corner.

The Red Bulls have prospered in this new rivalry, scoring 14 goals against NYCFC in four games. And to date, David Villa has failed to score his new team's rivals.

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