Preview: Red Bulls at Colorado Rapids

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Earlier this week Red Bulls coach Hans Backe admitted that the Supporter’s Shield, which he defined as his primary goal, is out of reach for New York. After crashing out of the Open Cup last week the Red Bulls are left with only one possible trophy, MLS Cup. The MLS Cup winner is often the team that finds its form late in the season and rides the wave through November. While it’s not crunch time just yet, the MLS season is more than half over and New York has yet to find their stride. With another short week of preparation, the Red Bulls will be looking to string together some positive results starting at Colorado tonight.

Destined to Draw?
The Red Bulls have developed the wrong kind of consistency in the 2011 season. They consistently settle for one point rather than three. Saturday’s scoreless draw against Chivas USA was the team’s 11th of the season. With one more draw they will tie the franchise record set in 2006. If I were a betting man I’d wager my entire bank account on New York crushing that record with 13 games to go.

Tonight’s tilt is the second meeting between the Red Bulls and the Rapids. Their first meeting was a bizarre 2-2 draw at Red Bull Arena, with all four goals scored between the 27th and 33rd minutes. Will either team find an advantage or will the Red Bulls continue their one point ways?

Injuries for Both Sides
The Red Bulls will have to deal with the continued absence of Rafa Marquez and Luke Rodgers at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Rodgers is expected out for at least the rest of July. Meanwhile Marquez could see some action in Saturday’s match. Teemu Tainio left Saturday’s game at the Home Depot Center with a thigh injury, but Backe expects the Finn to be fit against the Rapids.

Colorado has dealt with a decimated front line for much of the season. Omar Cummings, Conor Casey and Caleb Folan all missed significant stretches at some point this season. Casey’s return from Injury was a boon to Colorado. The former US international leads his team in scoring with 6 goals in his last 7 starts. On Tuesday the Rapids received the devastating news that Casey will miss the remainder of the season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Colorado will have to rely on a Cummings – Folan pairing to pick up the scoring slack.

Agudelo and Henry Chemistry is Crucial
The key to New York’s attack is the success of the Thierry Henry and Juan Agudelo forward pairing. The two have not been able to gel and replicate the results of Henry and Rodgers thus far.

In games where Henry and Agudelo started New York averages 0.8 goals per game, while Rodgers and Henry average nearly three times that figure ( 2.1 gpg).There are number of reasons for the lack of chemistry between the young American and the captain. The two play a similar style, often overlapping rather than complimenting each other. Also, Rodgers’ off the ball movement is superior to that of the 18 year old. Agudelo’s super-sub goals are also inflating the Rodgers-Henry tally. With Agudelo forced into the starting XI, that late game threat is lost.

Rodgers is out at least the rest of the month and Backe needs his second choice pair to improve their chemistry to jump start the attack.


  • Larry

    This is ridiculous. I wish a tie. I am ashamed to support this club, set back after set back after set back, is sooooooo old. However, like I said, I truly believe when Rafa is back, things will turn around. How do I know that, if there is not a worse defender than Mendes? As central defender in front of Ream, you cannot, cannot do what he did for that first goal. And that fourth goal, holy ****, he was like a cone and Nyassi was performing a drill. And, why, why, why didn’t anyone knock that little Nyassi around? I mean, he had space and more space. Once he touches the ball, bam, foul him, get a body on him, put in his mind that he’s going to get hit. And to start MB and McCarty in the central, I knew right there we were dead meat. And if you didn’t know now who got the better player, DC or NYRB, DC did. I have NOT been impressed with Dax. And when TT was sidelined with that thigh injury, there was only going to be one result. I am afraid of what’s going to happen in London. So, if you don’t know who is the MVP of NYRB (Rafa), the evidence is there in the amount of goals surrendered since May 25.