The New York Red Bulls (2-0-2) and their fans may not remember what the inside of Red Bull Arena looks like (unless they have gone to Red Bulls 2 matches) but they finally get to have an extended taste of home cooking. The Red Bulls start a three game home stand tonight against the San Jose Earthquakes (3-3-0) before hosting the LA Galaxy on April 26th and then the Colorado Rapids April 29th.
Now the Red Bulls have still yet to lose a game this season but they have also already had two bye weeks. I believe many fans of this team and of MLS are waiting for the Metro years of yonder to kick in and for it all to go spiraling out of control, especially given the events of this past offseason. However, the players are aware of previous teams that get off to hot starts and fizzle out at the end of the season. Some say luck was involved with the Red Bulls drawing with DC United late last week thanks to a rebound Lloyd Sam jumped on. I say its Jesse Marsch’s influence over this team and the players not letting what happened between the end of November and start of the season affect them on the field. There were no expectations for the Red Bulls and the 2015 season other than failure from most and hey, maybe some still feel that way but the players and Marsch are taking it one game and one opponent at a time.
The Quakes come into tonight’s match as having just slayed another “hottest” team in the Vancouver Whitecaps. San Jose snapped a two game skid thanks to Sanna Nyassi, who has five goals in 10 games against the Red Bulls. A stat provided by one of the voices of Seeing Red, Mark Fishkin and a stat that shouldn’t surprise some. Nyassi is fast and fits a mold of Red Bull killers. Coupled with the fact that Innocent returns to the lineup and Matias Perez Garcia is playing stellar soccer and the midfield trio of McCarty, Felipe, and Klejistan could face their toughest challenge of the young season so far. It will be up to the defensive unit of SJ to try and starve BWP if the service is there from the Red Bulls midfield. SJ has notably had a difficult time of trying to play out of the back and are vulnerable when their defenders have the ball at their feet. The Red Bulls have been playing a high pressure system that starts with Wright-Phillips and it is known what he can do to a team when he is forcing their mistakes. The Quakes will be without forward Adam Jahn after a red card against Vancouver but they still have Chris Wondolowski and last I checked we’re in Harrison, NJ not Brazil and Luis Robles is in net, not Courtois.
Good news from Red Bulls camp in the form of Roy Miller and Ronald Zubar returned to first team training this week. They both are still listed day to day and Jesse Marsch has given no hint as to which we’ll see where. However, young Matt Miazga has been called up to the U-20 US training camp in Austria after tonight’s match so I would suspect we see Miazga first over Zubar in case anything happens over seas. As for Miller, if he goes tonight expect Wondolowskiand company to test him early on and see just how well he can handle.
The key matchup for me is Lloyd Sam vs Cordell Cato. Cato is a midfielder by trade but has played left back in SJ’s two previous matches. Sam is NY’s leading scorer and chance creator and has torn up defenders in the past so this matchup for Sam and Marsch must have their eyes lighting up.