Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. Orlando City SC

image, NewYorkRedBulls.com

BY MARK FISHKIN

After a fortuitous weekend of results that saw every major Shield contender falter, New York’s 2-0 win at Portland lifted the club into point-per-game league lead, to the top of the Eastern Conference, and into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Now, with a three-match homestand ahead of them, the Red Bulls can take aim at securing a first-round bye, the Eastern Conference title (and the Champions League berth that comes along with it), and possibly the Supporters’ Shield. First up is Orlando City, coming off of their second-ever two-match winning streak.

Can New York finish the season perfect against MLS expansion teams or is Friday night’s match simply a trap?


 

Match Information:
Friday, September 25th at Red Bull Arena, 7:00p ET kickoff
TV/Streaming: UniMas/Deportes App
Audio: http://www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez

Record, GF/GA, Division and League Position, Recent Form:
New York, 48 points from 28 matches, 49 GF/32 GA, 1st in the East, t-1st in MLS, LWWLW
Orlando, 35 points from 30 matches, 37 GF/51 GA, 7th in the East, 16th in MLS, LDLWW


 

New York’s front line vs. the Lions’ defense
Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Luke Boden, Aurelien Collin, David Mateos, and Rafael Ramos (and Tally Hall)

BWP didn’t have a stellar match on Sunday, with three shots, and only one on target. Wright-Phillips’ two-match scoreless streak is his longest since June, when the Englishman went six matches without a goal. Orlando has conceded 13 goals in the club’s last six matches, including four to Seattle, five to Toronto, and three to New England. Luke Boden (1G/4A) is a holdover from the Lions’ USL squad. Though Collin doesn’t have too many friends among Red Bull fandom, the French defender has cut down on his yellow cards dramatically. From 2011-2013, Collin was carded 29 times for SKC. Over the last two seasons, he was only shown yellow four times, and was sent off in three matches. Mateos (1A) is a 28 year-old Spaniard who signed with Orlando during the summer transfer window. Ramos (2A) joined the club last summer from Benfica’s U19 squad. Tally Hall is 7-8-5 for the Lions, with a massive 1.85 GAA, worst in MLS among keepers with at least 20 starts.

Advantage: New York


 

Orlando’s attack vs. the Red Bulls’ defense:
Cyle Larin vs. Kemar Lawrence, Young Matt Miazga, Damien Perrinelle, and Connor Lade (and Luis Robles)

The top pick in this year’s SuperDraft, Canadian International Larin (11G) has had a very good first year in the league, though he’s on an eight-match scoring drought, and hasn’t unleashed more than two shots in a match since late July. Lawrence (4A) rebounded nicely from a poor performance in New England to a strong one in Portland, including an assist on Felipe’s goal. Matt Miazga will depart for the US U23 team after Friday’s match, and will miss both Columbus and Montreal matches for the Olympic Qualifying tournament. Perrinelle scored his just his second Red Bulls’ goal in Portland. The first came back in April in New York’s 2-2 draw in DC. Sal Zizzo performed admirably against the Timbers, but Connor Lade should return to the starting lineup at right back. Chris Duvall continues to heal ahead of a possible return to action before the playoffs. What more can be said about Luis Robles? In Portland, the New York keeper picked up his 100th straight appearance, a phenomenal double save, and his ninth shutout of the season.

Slight Advantage: New York


 

The Midfields:
Mike Grella, Dax McCarty, Sasha Kljestan, Felipe and Lloyd Sam vs. Carlos Rivas, Servando Carrasco, Kaka, Cristian Higuita, and Adrian Winter

New York’s deep bench was illustrated Sunday at Providence Park, with Shaun Wright-Phillips, Sean Davis, and Gonzalo Veron all contributing in the victory. Friday will see a return to Jesse Marsch’s preferred lineup. Both Grella’s and Felipe’s blasts were rightly nominated for Goal of the Week in MLS. McCarty will be rested after sitting out the Timbers match with a yellow card suspension. Sam has cooled a bit, with a goal and two assists in his last seven appearances. Kljestan opened the scoring in New York’s victory in Orlando in July with a blast from 25 yards out. For the Lions, Rivas (2A) has been in and out of the lineup much of the last two months. Carrasco (2A) joined the club in July and now has played for Seattle, Houston, SKC and now Orlando in five years in the league. Kaka (9G/4A) should be healthy after coming back from injury that caused the Brazilian legend to miss the last three OCSC matches. Kaka hasn’t scored since July 4th, seven appearances ago. Higuita (1G/2A), a 21 year-old Colombian, has been held without a point over his last seven matches. Adrian Winter, a Swiss national and summer signing, scored both of his 2015 goals in a 3-1 home win against SKC on the 13th. Off the bench with come Bryan Rochez, a 20 year-old Honduran who scored Orlando’s game winner in the 86th minute at Chicago. Rochez has goals in each of the Lions’ last two matches.

Advantage: New York


The Coaches:

Jesse Marsch continues to push his team to improve after the club posted its’ third road shutout of the season in Portland. With four reserves performing well on Sunday, Marsch’s charges have shown to be deep and resilient. Adrian Heath has suffered through a typical MLS expansion season, with players shuttling in and out of the lineup and dealing with the flurry of red cards (nine-tops in MLS) his team has suffered this year. Still, his club has an outside shot at the playoffs, a fine mark for a first-year club.

Slight Advantage: New York


 

Intangibles:

New York has won six straight matches at Red Bull Arena, outscoring opponents 16-3 over that stretch. Only Larin (11) and Kaka (9) have more than two goals for Orlando. The Lions are 18th in MLS in shots on goal. Larin only lasted thirty-two minutes in the clubs’ July match in Orlando before getting ejected after a hit to Kljestan. Orlando has scored sixteen goals, thirty-one percent of their total output this season, after the seventy-fifth minute. The Lions are a decent road team with wins at Portland, Houston, and twice at Chicago. New York is scoring 1.92 goals per match at Red Bull Arena, while Orlando concedes 2.27 goals per game away from the Citrus Bowl, the worst mark in MLS. Friday night’s weather will be nice, with overcast skies and seventy degrees. Friday’s crowd will be small, given the effect that the Pope’s visit to New York, the UN General Assembly, and various other special events will make getting out of Manhattan brutal during the evening rush hour.

Advantage: New York


 

Prediction:

With Miazga’s departure to the US pre-Olympic team imminent, New York has got to win Friday to keep their Shield dreams intact. Playing in the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena, the Red Bulls will be confident, and will play with purpose. With first-half goals by BWP and Grella, New York will cruise to a two-nil victory, setting the stage for two big matches versus Eastern contenders Columbus and a red-hot Montreal.

  • 1996 New York

    I just realized that if you rearrange the letters in Orlando, it spells Ronaldo. CR to Orlando in ’18; rumor starts here.

    That is all.