Is Sal Zizzo’s Spot On The RBNY Backline In Jeopardy?

Midfielder turned defender Sal Zizzo has been the most consistent face on the ever-changing Red Bull New York backline this season. He has played 21 of the club’s 23 matches, including 19 starts, this year while no other Red Bull defender has played more than 17 (Connor Lade). However, New York’s inconsistency and lack of creativity on offense this season may result in Zizzo seeing less time going forward.

While he has been a solid and dependable right back this year, his lack of offensive prowess may be taking its toll on coach Jesse Marsch. In 1,692 minutes this season, Zizzo is yet to score a goal and has only contributed two assists. In fact, in seven MLS seasons, Zizzo has only netted two goals – both during his time in Portland.

With New York down 2-1 in the 73rd minute during Sunday’s match in Chicago, Zizzo was substituted out for rookie Justin Bilyeu, who was only making his third-career MLS appearance. However, despite his lack of experience, Bilyeu provided an immediate spark on offense as he took two shots, one of which was on net. 17 minutes after he entered the match the Red Bulls found the equalizer and escaped the Windy City with a point.

Looking forward, it’s clear that Marsch and Red Bulls’ sporting director Ali Curtis are determined to improve offensive consistency. Austrian winger Daniel Royer has been linked heavily to the Red Bulls, and may be one of a few moves made with offense in mind. However, it’s unlikely they will make a money-laden deal like they did last year with Gonzalo Veron. In fact, Veron’s ineffectiveness has helped put the Red Bulls into the position they’re currently in.

It’s more likely that Marsch will look to lineup changes to help create and maintain consistency in the final third. Recently, he’s played with the midfield as he moved Felipe up to the advanced-mid position, and moved Dax up against the Fire on Sunday, before his injury.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Marsch begin to sit Zizzo more often to add offensive punch in the lineup. In his two years with the Red Bulls, Zizzo has been a solid defensive piece in the lineup, however defense is not the Red Bulls’ main concern at the moment.

Photo Credit: Matt Kremkau, Empire of Soccer