The New York Red Bulls have started 2015 in much better form than many predicted, and are currently three points better off than at the same stage last season, despite the change in head coach and the loss of Designated Players Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.
But not everything changed, and Lloyd Sam is one of the players who has remained an integral part of the Red Bulls team, as he has since joining from Leeds United in 2012.
The English winger started the campaign with three goals in four matches and is already on the same number as he was after 27 weeks in 2014, but he admits that he is not happy with his recent goalscoring drought, having not scored in seven.
“At the moment I’m not really happy with myself in front of goal,” Sam told MLSGB. “I haven’t scored in a few games and I want to get back to that aggression that I was showing in the first few matches.
“So I’ve got to get back to that, running hard in the box and really making myself a nuisance. We’re looking at that right now about getting that aggression back.”
There were concerns that the Red Bulls were going to struggle this season after waving goodbye to Mike Petke despite their playoff run to the Eastern Conference final at the end of last season.
But Jesse Marsch has come in and has done well with the squad so far, leading them to third place in the Eastern Conference. They are just five points off top placed DC United and have two games in hand but Sam isn’t surprised by the encouraging start to the season.
“I don’t know if I’m surprised,” the former Charlton Athletic winger said. “After going into preseason everything started well and I wouldn’t say I’m surprised because I look around me and I see good players and good people.
“It’s going to be hard to keep up the same style but we’re going to endeavor to do it and hopefully get stronger and stronger, and evolve into the team we want to be.”
Sam’s fellow Englishman Bradley Wright-Phillips tied the MLS record with 27 regular season goals in an exceptional season last year, and even though regular provider Thierry Henry has left, Wright-Phillips has still netted five times from ten starts so far in 2015.
The two English attackers have a strong relationship on the field and off it, and Sam loves playing alongside last season’s MLS Golden Boot winner.
“He’s a really good guy. I love having him here and enjoy playing with him, especially when he converts a cross that I put in.
“I know his family so it’s good having him here and it’s good to go on the pitch with a guy that I know from London already. We’ve got good camaraderie.”
What have you made of Lloyd Sam and the New York Red Bull’s start to the 2015 season?