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PRESEASON: In Disney Pro Soccer opener, Red Bulls lose 1-0 against Sporting KC, few bright spells in Magic Kingdom

A New York Red Bulls team resting designated players Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, dropped a 1-0 result to Sporting Kansas City at the ESPN Wide World Sports Complex in Kississimee, FL on February 19. This is the third game played by the Red Bulls this preseason.

The loss was perhaps unsurprising as Sporting is at a further stage in their preseason, having played more games already than the Red Bulls. They are preparing for a quarterfinal matchup against Mexican side Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League on March 12.

Red Bulls fans rashly worrying about a fourth conceded goal this preseason should not fret, as it came after wholesale changes from both sides in the second half. Jacob Peterson’s “picking up the trash” goal saw the Sporting reserves top the ones from New York.

The starting lineup once again included new signings, Armando Lozano and Bobby Convey, at center back and left midfield, respectively, alongside familiar names like Dax McCarty, Jamison Olave and Luis Robles. At right midfield, Lloyd Sam earned another start after his match-winning performance against Philadelphia, while Alexander and Bradley Wright-Phillips started in central positions.

Mike Petke positioned Roy Miller and Kosuke Kimura at outside backs to overlap and press high. New attacking midfield option, Peguy Luyindula, played underneath BWP, sometimes dropping deep into midfield to form an offensive and defensive triangle with McCarty and Alexander.

The online stream was plagued by technical difficulties so only limited portions of the match was accessible to the public. The stream cut off around the 15th minute and resumed approximately at the 60th.

Few trends in the first half could be observed before the stream cut off. Sam played the two-way winger style to win the ball back deep in his half and gain space to attack left back, Seth Sinovic, on multiple 1v1s. Kimura and Armando also showed signs of defensive frailties with risky play and turnovers in possession.

According to the NYRB twitter feed, a BWP goal was disallowed for offside in the 19th minute, after he tucked away a Sam pass into the corner. He would go on to have two further chances before the end of the first half.

The second half saw a completely new lineup by Mike Petke. Chris Duvall, still on trial, came in at right back instead of the presumed backup, Richard Eckersley, and lasted the entire half. Santiago Castano played the whole second period, as Ryan Meara continues to remain sidelined without any injury report.

Other players on trial, such as left back Tyler Polak and midfielder Eric Stevenson, saw limited time to impress for a coveted roster spot. Homegrown players, Matt Miazga and Connor Lade, started the second period, but Lade was subbed out in the 69th minute. He too, like Meara, seems to be suffering from a physical or mental setback that is stagnating his development this preseason.

Red Bull reserves that impressed included a central midfield pairing of Ruben Bover and Michael Bustamante. Entering their sophomore year in MLS, they illustrated improved composure and controlled the tempo of the team’s possession. Marius Obekop played in a new position underneath Andre Akpan at striker. His quick feet and creatively seemed better suited centrally than in an isolated, wide position.

Andre Akpan had the best opportunity to equalize in the 82nd minute after a Johnny Steele cross was inches away from connecting to his outstretched foot. The play began after a positive attack on the right from Duvall and two subsequent dangerous crosses.

Ultimately, like most preseason games, the result demonstrates very little meaning. What one can take from the matches are individual performances, but unfortunately, the stream prevented fans from observing them fully today. With Henry and Cahill rested for a tournament that sees the Red Bulls play four games in the space of a few days, the game became more limited for trend forecasting.

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