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Three Talking Points from Orlando City SC 1 - 0 New York Red Bulls

Image Credits: NY Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls suffered a tough 1-0 defeat at Orlando City SC to begin the 2023 season. Offensive production has been a major concern for Metro fans as of late and Saturday’s performance in front of goal did little to ease those concerns. Despite the disappointing result, reflecting on the match over the last 48 hours I've come to realize there were some notable positives on display. Here are three of the biggest takeaways from Saturday’s season opener.

1. Struber’s new look 4-2-2-2 impresses

Image Credit: Area Sports Network

After spending much of last season in a variation of a 3-4-3 or a 4-2-3-1, the Red Bulls began their season in a 4-2-2-2 formation. Although the final match result says otherwise the Red Bulls looked extremely comfortable in this formation, particularly in the first half. Playing with two strikers the Red Bulls were relentless out of possession, making Orlando City uncomfortable for the entire 90 minutes with their pressing structure. In possession, the Red Bulls were able to find a lot of space in the central areas thanks to their shape and generated several scoring opportunities. Whether their inability to turn those chances into goals is just early season rust or part of a bigger problem will have to be seen.

2. Peter Stroud makes MLS Debut

Image Credit: NY Red Bulls

The Red Bulls signed Duke University star Peter Stroud to a homegrown contract last month and on Saturday he made his official MLS debut. The 20 year old midfielder came on in the 79th minute for Luquinhas and played well despite the short period of time. Stroud, a former USL League 2 No. 1 prospect and West Ham United academy talent will be looking to comfortably integrate into the first team this season. Stroud has also featured for the US Men's National Team at the U-15 and U-17 level and is also the brother of former Red Bull Jared Stroud.

3. MLS Officiating Once Again in the Spotlight

Image Credit: TUDN

Orlando scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot after Sean Nealis was called for handball in the 55th minute. The decision has been derided as questionable at best, as the Carlos Araujo header first came off of Nealis’ chest before grazing his right bicep. Particularly frustrating is the fact that the decision was never reviewed by match official Guido Gonzalez or by any of the VAR officials for the match. Regardless of what you think of the decision, it is disappointing that most of the conversation surrounding a match between two Eastern Conference contenders is about the officiating. There has been a lot of positivity and excitement surrounding the start of season, but no one loves a ref show.

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