Now in his second year with the New York Red Bulls, Luquinhas fights to improve his game this season
The head coach Gerhard Struber knows he can get more from his roster, and one specific piece of his offense has been fighting to get back on his form showed right during the first half of last year’s season.
Luquinhas joined the New York Red Bulls at the beginning of 2022, coming from Legia Warsaw after the MLS club sent a paycheck of $3.5 million to the Polish side.
The 26 years old quickly became a sensation within the Red Bulls fan base with his ability to dribble and score some bangers, including a chip from outside the box against Toronto FC that earned the Brazilian the “Goal of the Week 15” back in June.
Luquinhas found the back of the net seven times from April to July and nine assists from April to August across the MLS and the US Open Cup.
Since then, Luquinhas’s form faded away, and the New York Red Bulls suffered from his winger’s lack of production on the field.
Help from the coach
Gerhard Struber spoke about his Brazilian attacker this Thursday, before the home opener of the 2023 season when the Red Bulls will face Nashville SC at the Red Bull Arena. He revealed what the team has been doing to help Luquinhas to regain his magic.
“We work with him on spaces in the end so that he can show his perfect strength. Games like Orlando are mental tests. He needs to show us hungry moments. I have a big trust in him in that the Orlando game was not what we expected”, said Struber pointing out the loss against Orlando City in the season opener last Saturday (25) in Florida. Again, Luquinhas’s performance didn’t help much the Red Bulls.
Help from the front office
Even Luquinhas knows his form is not ideal and has talked about his self-criticism. He knows he needs to get better to continue to be a starter for the club and boost an offense that got new pieces during the last off-season: Cory Burke joined the Red Bulls coming from the Philadelphia Union, and the team’s front office spent something around $5 million to acquire Dante Vanzeir from Union SG, their new designated player. Also, Elias Manoel rejoined the team after a loan from Grêmio in the second half of the 2022 season.
The front office managed to keep most of last year’s roster and ended up only seeing the departure of Patrick Klimala to Hapoel Be’er Sheva from Israel.
If Luquinhas shared the high expectations from the fanbase with Lewis Morgan last year, reality has changed in 2023. The Brazilian saw the burden of being the decisive factor in Struber’s attack move to Vanzeir, a prolific goalscorer during his stint with Union SG that set a 15 goals target for his first year with the Red Bulls.
Besides the drought to score or assist, Luquinhas still have most of the fans supporting him, even though some may jeopardize his starting XI status.
— mid-late 20s Sav (@everytimeisigh) March 2, 2023
During the last meet and greet the team hosted at the Red Bull Arena, Luquinhas was among the players selected by the club to talk to the Red Members, their season ticket holders, and can be found on social media smiling with the affection directed towards him from the fans. It would be the other way if he didn’t have the respect of the supporters.
(Cover: Twitter/New York Red Bulls)