Match Day 6: The Red Bulls Hit The Road To Take On D.C. United

HERE’S THE DEAL

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Still feeling the buzz from Saturday’s three goal bombardment of San Jose, the New York Red Bulls turn their focus down south to their oldest rival in the East; D.C. United. D.C. did some major overhaul work this offseason, solidifying their coaching situation with Ben Olsen at the helm, and bringing in some major talent to rebuild the offensive game people have come to expect from the black and red. Charlie Davies has finally been able to see time on the pitch, and is currently the leading goal scorer in Major League Soccer with five. Team captain Dax McCarty has been a steady, passionate presence in the midfield, and Josh Wolff has given the team a consistent attacking threat option as well. Complimented by original black and red stand outs Chris Pontius and Andy Najar, the rebuilt D.C. United are a far cry from the cellar dwellars of 2010.

Dominating teams this season through possession play, and solid defense, it is the offense that has been the question mark for the Red Bulls this year. Their search may be over after this past weeks San Jose thrashing. “The Tank” Luke Rodgers enjoyed a standout game, scoring two goals and setting up a third for Thierry Henry, who was desperately seeking the back of the net all season long. Inspired by the combo, even the midfield was contributing in the final third, a trend Red Bull hope to carry over into this game.

Two teams on the right side of winning collide in a classic MLS rivalry. It’s the Atlantic Cup and it begins tonight!

THREE QUESTIONS FACING THE RED BULLS

1 – Can Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers have an encore performance?

Image / Mike Stobe, Getty

Last weeks game was a perfect prototype of how one would like to begin and nurture a budding forward tandem. Both Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry were getting killed for being unable to find the back of the net early this season. Against a solid San Jose team, they managed to nail three beauties. How? By looking out for each other. Let’s face it; Juan Agudelo is an excellent talent, but he is there to learn from Henry, which can actually make it a bit tougher to play alongside Henry. Rodgers knows the role he must serve on this team; be the speedy, dangerous option to Henry’s target attack, create space and keep the opposition looking towards him and not the Frenchmen. Once Henry looked to feed Rodgers for that second goal, Henry knew capitulation was right around the corner. Both men looked for each other in a a partnership this team has not seen in quite some time.

2 – Is Charlie Davies for real?

Charlie Davies is enjoying an inspired comeback in D.C. Given some playing time, he is finally working towards getting his body into game fitness and speed after the horrible accident that left him hobbled and nearly dead. His five goals puts him two above all other contenders, but is Davies for real? We shall find out tonight. Davies might represent the first real challenge to the Red Bulls defense, which has been air tight early this season. Will they be able to contain number 9?

3 – Who will take the momentum?

D.C. United absolutely dismantled a beleaguered Toronto F.C. away this passed week. The Red Bulls offensive awakening has been the talk of the week around New York. Who will take the momentum and drive themselves forward to points? Both teams are inspired, and this rivalry always produces a bit more juice than the average game. Can either side ride good fortune to three points?

MATCH UP TO WATCH

Dax McCarty v. Teemu Tainio

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Teemu Tainio has been the silent engine of the Red Bulls defensive midfield. His pass completion percentage has never dived below 85%, his vision and decision making are tops on the club, and his ability to make short, concise passes enables the Red Bulls to run this Mini-Barcelona possession style to success. Dax McCarty, in short time, has become a vocal leader on United’s pitch. Dax is equally able to send a perfect through ball as he is to execute a spot kick. This combination of youth versus experience makes the hottest match up to watch the one happening at midfield.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Much like the Union two weeks ago, D.C. United is looking to make some noise against the most ballyhooed side in Major League Soccer. Ben Olsen knows this rivalry well, being the target of Metro Bull vitriol for well over a decade now; if you think he won’t will his team to the next level, you are sadly mistaken.

The Red Bulls must continue to play their possession style against D.C. United’s rapid counter attack. Keeping the home side frustrated through a series of short passes and through balls will do much to turn the tide of momentum away from the home side. The key will be to do so without being caught asleep in the back. With a good amount of possession, and the continued growth of the Henry/Rodgers tandem, the Red Bulls should manage to walk away with a victory.

PREDICTION

Red Bulls 2 -1 D.C. United

  • bryan

    dismantled DC up front.. there defense had no answer for our attack…