Preview: New York Red Bulls at New England Revolution

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By MARK FISHKIN
Staff Writer

The Red Bulls will be as undermanned as any point in recent history as they get set to play the club’s final MLS match before the World Cup break.

Sunday afternoon in New England, where New York hasn’t won since 2002, the Red Bulls will take the field without as many as five starters: Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave (out due to Foxboro’s turf), Tim Cahill and Roy Miller (at the World Cup), and Dax McCarty (knee injury.) Given the Red Bulls’ four-match winless streak, and the club’s dreary record in Massachusetts, look for Mike Petke to park the bus with a last-ditch lineup in an attempt to salvage a point.

Match Information:
Sunday, June 8th at Gillette Stadium, 5p ET kickoff, TV: MSG

Referee: Geoff Gamble

Record, GF/GA, Division and League Position, Recent Form:
New England, 23 points from 13 matches, 21 GF/16 GA, 1st in the East, 3rd  in MLS, WWWWL
New York, 15 points from 14 matches, 20 GF/ 22 GA, 7th in the East, 15th in MLS, WLLLD

New England’s front line vs. the Red Bulls defense:

Patrick Mullins vs Bobby Convey, Armando,, Matt Miazga, Ibrahim Sekagya, and Chris Duvall (and Luis Robles).
In the Revs’ 4-1-4-1 formation, two-time Hermann award winner and rookie Patrick Mullins is the target man. All Mullins has done in 13 matches is score four times, the harbinger of a fantastic MLS career for the former Maryland Terrapin. Petke’s bus-parking strategy may involve playing a 5-4-1 in an attempt to salvage a draw. The backline platoon of Armando and Sekagya are joined by Matt Miazga in the center, Convey will have his hands full with Teal Bunbury launching attacks from the Revs’ wing. New York hasn’t shut out an opponent since their last win, over a month ago at Dallas. The Revolution has scored five goals in a match twice this season: a 5-nil victory against the league-leading Seattle Sounders on May 11th, and a 5-3 win at Philadelphia the week later.
Advantage: New England

New York’s attackers vs. the Revolution defense:
Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, AJ Soares, and Andrew Farrell (and Bobby Shuttleworth).
BWP will line up alone up top as New York packs the back.  League-leading scorer Wright-Phillips continues to be the shining light of the 2014 New York season.  The Revolution have posted four shutouts in thirteen matches, and primary keeper Shuttleworth has them all (6-4-2, 1.08 GAA).    Veteran defender Soares has played every minute (1g, 1a), and Tierney is listed as a D-M (1g, 2a).  Portgual’s Jose Goncalves missed five matches earlier this year but is back playing the full 90.  Andrew Farrell, a former Big East defensive player of the year at Louisville, is a future USMNT prospect.
Advantage: New England.

The Midfields:
Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe, Andy Dorman, Lee Nguyen, and Teal Bunbury vs. Jonny Steele, Peguy Luyindula, Eric Alexander, and Lloyd Sam.
Despite getting shutout last week in Montreal, New England’s attacking midfielders will use slashing runs to break down the Red Bulls defense. Free kick specialist Lee Nguyen leads the club with five goals and an assist. Teen phenom and recent high school graduate Fagundez has collected four goals and three assists on the season.  SKC castoff Bunbury has re-ingnited his career at Foxboro (2g, 3a).  Daigo Kobayashi has come off the bench of late to contribute (3a).  Dorman, the Boston U product in his second stint with the club, and Rowe anchor the defensive midfield.  The Red Bulls will be buoyed by the return of Jonny Steele from international duty with Northern Ireland, and with the missing pieces on the Red Bulls roster, will get the start at left mid.  With Luyindula trying to connect with BWP, the Dax McCarty role falls to Eric Alexander.  Though not his natural position, Alexander may succeed without the pressure of trying to create offensively. Sam will be called on to do his thing down the right side.    
Slight Advantage: New England

The Coaches:

Jay Heaps has his young team improving for the second straight season.  After suffering through a disastrous 9-17-8 campaign in 2012, the longtime MLS player didn’t panic when his club took four matches to find the net.  Heaps’ club is the clear surprise of 2014, and may be the story of the season in MLS.  It’s been easy to criticize Mike Petke for some of the lineup and substitution decisions he’s made in 2014.  However, it’s not the coach’s fault that the club will be missing half of its starting lineup on Sunday.  Petke will have to arrange his side correctly, and not risk too much, in order to deliver a point in Foxoboro.
Advantage: Even

Intangibles:

The only stat worth mentioning: New York is 0-14-7 in New England since June 29, 2002, when Mamadou Diallo and Mark Lisi scored to give the MetroStars a 2-nil victory. Since then, the franchise has lost playoff matches, US Open Cup matches, and plenty of regular season MLS matches in and around New England. Heading to the Revolution’s cavernous Gillette Stadium, hard to a two-lane Route 1 in suburban Foxboro, does not offer much hope.  Years of neglect by the Kraft family has left the Revolution only its long-suffering hard core fans. Attendance is near the bottom quarter of the league at a shade under 14,000.  Sunday’s forecast will be hot (and hotter on the plastic pitch) with a high of 84 degrees under partly cloudy skies. Sunday will mark the Red Bulls’ final match on an artificial surface this regular season. Still, 2002.
Advantage: New England

Prediction:

This mission seems impossible, trying to get points without any stars except BWP in a place you haven’t won in nearly twelve years.  As said above numerous times, Petke needs to sit back and launch Sam and Steele forward to generate any offense. The key will be an out-of-position Alexander to nullify New England outside the Red Bulls’ box.  With the US Open Cup looming, perhaps Petke will play some of the kids. I don’t think it’ll matter, but don’t get too low on this one, fans The timing’s just not right. New York loses 1-0.