It was five games into the season in 2013 before the New York Red Bulls (0-1-3) picked up the full three points of the campaign. We’re at that same point in 2014 and the prospect of picking up the full points is in higher doubt this time around. The Red Bulls limp into Montreal with a slew of injuries and absences due to the turf of Olympic Stadium.
On top, the Red Bulls will be without midfielder Tim Cahill and right back Richard Eckersley as both left in the first half with injuries against Chivas USA. On the turf front, both captain Thierry Henry and defender Jamison Olave look set once again to sit out a match played on the rug of Olympic Stadium. Likely to step in and play a part for the Red Bulls will be Kosuke Kimura, Eric Alexander, Ibrahim Sekagaya, and Bradley Wright-Philips. Throughout the off-season, Petke and Roxburgh touted the depth of this squad and now this depth will face its first real challenge of the season.
Last season when the Red Bulls visited Montreal, the Impact tore through the center of the midfield and defense on the turf of Olympic Stadium. Through the Red Bulls first four games, the center of their midfield has failed to shut down their opposing midfielders for long stretches, allowing teams to impose their play over NY home or away. That will be an issue the Red Bulls will need to resolve immediately as Felipe, Bernier and Justin Mapp can open up a defense with a pass when given space and time. Especially Mapp who holds the second best pass percentage in MLS currently. On top of Montreal’s overpowering midfield, Maro Di Vaio sits off the back shoulder of every center back pairing, stretching a teams defense and somehow always finding himself on the end of terrific service. Not to mention the Impact also just traded Andrew Wenger to Philadelphia for Jack MacInerny.
The Red Bulls offense has been nothing, if consistent through the first four matches of the season. Four goals in four games but I have a feeling they will need to score more than one goal to win this match. Expect Peguy Luyindula to slot underneath BWP to start the match with Sam and Convey out on the wings. The one positive thing about the Red Bulls play so far this season is the willingness for players to interchange in the attack. At times against Chivas you would see Lloyd Sam or Bobby Convey playing centrally with Luyindula out on the wing. However, this has led to minimal returns in the goals scoring department. Let’s hope this fact changes soon.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports)