After making his way to New York from FC Midtjylland, Daniel Royer has been a well-known figure for the New York Red Bulls. The Austrian winger is at the prime of his career, consistently scoring for the New York Red Bulls for two seasons now. The 29-year-old scored 11 goals in 26 starts in the 2019 league itself, bagging seven assists on the course. This tactical analysis scout report will dive into Royer’s style of play, offering much more than what number suggest about the former Hannover 96 player. The analysis will fall into his importance in New York Red Bull’s tactics and how he makes Chris Armas’ side work.
More than just a winger
Royer is much more than just a wide winger and offers the cover both vertically and horizontally for his side. While playing in a 4-2-3-1 system, Royer is deployed as the left-attacking midfielder and a direct link to the lone striker when supplying balls, either by short passes or crosses from wide left.
Royer’s positional role, however, lies much more in his movements than on his ideal placement. The Austrian is dwelling around the horizontal lines to provide an extra passing option to the ball carrier or to receive the ball. Similarly, the ability to detect and be in the space makes him move horizontally, making him a driving force for the Red Bull’s attack. Royer’s heatmap from 2019 shows how he positions himself convincingly.
The vertical coverage towards his half shows the work Royer likes to put to track back and help the defensive players in defending against the wide opposition attackers. This makes Royer a valuable asset for the New York Red Bulls system, as he can try out things and recover the ball in case things don’t work for him.
Daniel Royer likes to drop between the half-spaces and contribute to the build-up when New York Red Bulls are trying to move forward with the ball. However, Royer wants to put a lot of work on the pitch, virtually becoming an engine to supplement the attack with his direct presence. Not only does he contribute to the build, but he goes on to place himself to an advanced space to receive the ball and create a dangerous move for his side.
In the instance seen above, Royer gets the ball near the centre line and drives with the ball, passing the ball to the free man as shown. The work doesn’t stop with him contributing to taking the attack to a central position, but he follows the move with a quick run towards the box as shown:
With his quickness, Royer makes a blind run, receiving the ball from the second player. This not only makes Royer capable of receiving the ball and getting a shot on target, but Royer gets a clearer vision of players inside the box. In this way, Royer’s presence on the wing is much more than what stats indicate about him.
Ability to play wide and contribute to the press
With a player like Royer, midfielders can always opt to make a long pass to switch play towards the wider side of the pitch. Royer can play out wide and drift from the build-up to create a 1v1 situation against opposition fullbacks. Like a typical winger, the touches that he takes indicate of the same thing – he receives the ball out wide and organises play accordingly managing to cope up with the opposition press. Similarly, his dribbling abilities are a plus in driving from the broad areas.
The touches, as seen in the picture above, are concentrated towards the left side of the pitch, which shows the magnitude of contacts that Royer takes wide. The touches are heavy inside the box as well, which we will look at as the analysis progresses.
Similarly, Daniel Royer is a vital player when it comes to the scheme that New York Red Bulls use to press the opposition. New York Red Bulls like to press in numbers, counter-pressing the opposition ball carrier to recover the ball in the opposition half itself. While Royer occupies the wide left, he comes to support the respective marker to outnumber the opposition player and force errors to recover the ball.
In the above instance, the New York Red Bulls are pressing to counter the opposition build-up. As we can see, Royer is already making a run towards the middle area, to give 2v1 advantage for the press.
By outnumbering the opponent, Royer manages to recover the ball. However, making a turn to progress the play looks to be difficult in this instance. This is where Royer’s smart decision making and work rate comes to play, as he sets it up to the player facing the opposition post, who has a better vision of the options. After the process, Royer makes a central run, to receive from the ball carrier as shown in the progression:
Royer makes the most out of the stamina and the age he’s in right now. Having a forward player who can cover his side of the pitch towards his box has benefitted the Red Bulls’ defensive set-up very much. Daniel Royer can extensively work to make defensive contributions to his side, either by showcasing his aerial prowess or by never leaving his man alone and tracking the run accurately.
The heatmap has already given us a hint of the vertical movement that Royer does for the system. The thing that stands out is his ability to read runs and the potential move that the opposition towards his side is going to make. By having this quality, Royer can counter-defend rather than opting to switch centrally to defend inside the box with the defensive players ultimately.
One classic example of Royer’s ability to sprint and track his marker, get the ball off him and read the potential move would be this incident against Columbus Crew:
As soon as the counter starts, the opposition starts to crowd the central line, with a motive of receiving cross towards the centre and create a dangerous opportunity. Royer tracks the wide ball-carrier and begins to cover him seeing the future potential move. Royer then becomes successful in reading the plan and gets the ball off the man, easing off the pressure building in the centre.
Ability to dribble and cut inside the box
Royer scored 11 league goals in 2019, leading the scoresheet for the New York Red Bulls. His ability to play out wide is perfectly complemented by his ability to dribble and cut inside the box, to take shots from a better angle for better results.
The Austrian boasted 70.9% dribble success rate with 75.3% of those coming inside the attacking half and aimed to cut inside. Generally, dribbles towards the wide areas end up with a cross and the cut-ins result in a shot off Royer’s boot.
What makes Royer a prolific scorer is his ability to position himself to a shot-taking position and being able to decide to take the shot from the best angle possible. 47.1% of his total shots come directly ahead of the post, making him likely to score most of the times and have a full view of the post. Similarly, he attempts most of his shots from inside the box itself, which shows his decisiveness in opting between passing to a better player and taking a chance.
Royer’s shooting zone can be further understood by the following picture, which gives an accurate representation of his intention of having a better central view despite being a wide player.
Although Royer is not a hype figure, Royer is a character that exceeds the numbers. Enjoying his prime at the New York Red Bulls itself, it is likely that the Austrian will spend the latter half of his career in New York as well. What he has done is already on the cards for his side, and what he will do certainly will behold for New York Red Bulls’ success.