Preview: New York Red Bulls at DC United

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by MARK FISHKIN

Have the Red Bulls truly turned their season around?

A three-match unbeaten run would make the argument, along with the return from injury of Ronald Zubar and Gonzalo Veron. After picking up their first road point of the year in Orlando, New York visits their old enemy for the first of three Atlantic Cup matches this season. DC is hurting this season, and has been shout out three times so far at RFK.

As the Red Bulls begin another three-matches-in-eight-days run, picking up points in DC will truly indicate to all that the turnaround is complete.


Match Information:

Friday, May 13th at RFK Stadium. 7pET Kickoff

TV/Streaming: UniMas/Deportes App

Red Bulls Radio: TuneIn App and www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio

Referee: Sorin Stoica: 110 games; FC/gm: 27.5; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 15; pens: 21

Record, GF/GA, Division & League Position, Current Form

DC United: 10 pts from 10 games, 11GF/13GA, t-6th in the East, t-15th in MLS,  WLWDL

New York: 10 pts from 10 games, 13GF/18GA,  t-6th in the East, t-15th in MLS, LLWWD


Projected Lineups:

DC United

DCvNY

New York

NYvDC


DC United’s front line vs. the Red Bull defense:

Alvaro Saborio and Luciano Acosta vs. Kemar Lawrence, Aurelien Collin, Ronald Zubar, Sal Zizzo, and Luis Robles

The 34-year-old Saborio (3G/1A) has been terrorizing New York for years, first at RSL and now at United. The Costa Rican has five goals all-time against New York. Saborio missed a perfect opportunity last Sunday against NYCFC that landed in the raccoon nest in the 20th row.  The diminutive Acosta (1G/3A) is on loan from Boca Juniors. He’s listed as only 5’3″ and is leading the club in assists. This week DC announced the signing of Sierra Leonean forward Alhaji Kamara from IFK in Sweden. Kamara may see the field Friday night. Fabian Espindola may be back from a hamstring injury suffered on April 23rd. For New York, Lawrence had a golden opportunity to break up Orlando’s goal last Friday, but somehow overran the play, allowing Larin to connect with Molino who then scored. Collin acquitted himself well in his Red Bulls debut, though he did pick up a yellow, as did Zubar, who will be suspended after his next caution card.  Zizzo’s offensive-minded play continues to pay dividends, as the converted midfielder fed Kljestan to start New York’s drive to goal last time out.

Slight Advantage: New York


New York’s attack vs. DC’s back line:

Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Taylor Kemp, Bobby Boswell, Steven Birnbaum, Sean Franklin, and Travis Worra

All of BWP’s three goals this season have come against Orlando City. No member of DC United’s back line has collected a point this season. Kemp has put just one of his six shots at goal on frame this season. Birnbaum has been included on the USMNT Copa America 40-man roster. Boswell keeps chugging along in his twelfth MLS season, with six years in Houston sandwiched by three-year stints at DC.  Franklin has one goal and no assists to his name in 34 starts for United since moving from the Galaxy. Bill Hamid-stand-in Worra (1.00 GAA) has shut out Vancouver once and New England twice this year.

Slight Advantage: New York


The Midfields:

Lamar Neagle, Nick DeLeon, Marcelo Sarvas, and Patrick Nyarko vs. Mike Grella, DaxMcCarty, Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, and Lloyd Sam

Neagle (2G/2A) is looking to regain his 2014 form for Seattle, when the Washington state native hit career highs in goals (9) and assits (9).  DeLeon (0G/0A) killed off the Red Bulls in the 2012 playoffs after Kenny Cooper had his re-taken penalty kick saved.  Sarvas notched double-digits assists with the Galaxy in 2014 but had to record a point this season.  Nyarko (2G) tormented the Red Bulls for years as a member of the Chicago Fire (3G/4A all-time). He scored against his former team this April 30th.  New York’s attacking engine seems to have finally sprung to life, with eight goals scored over the last three outings, and Sacha Kljestan leading MLS in assists, with six. Kljestan now has 10 goals and 20 assists is a Red Bulls uniform. The other members of the exclusive 10/20 club include Henry, Guevara, Richards, Mathis, McCarty, Sam, and Villegas.  Grella (3G/1A) will continue to make things tough for Jesse Marsch to keep a recovered Gonzalo Veron on the bench. While McCarty’s (1A) contributions haven’t shown on the stat sheet, the master disruptor continues to help turn the season around. Felipe (3G/1A) was unlucky not to put New York ahead in Orlando. Sam (1G/3A) has all of his MLS points this season over the last three matches, a big reason for the club’s recovery.

Advantage: New York


The Coaches:

Ben Olsen has been at DC through good times and bad, and this season hasn’t started off too well.  Of course 11 goals scored in 10 matches isn’t going to get the job done, and Kamara may be the jolt of offense Olsen needs to get his team some wins. Jesse Marsch gets one of his prize tools back in the finally healthy Veron. The key will be Veron’s mindset (and those of the other players) as he gets more playing time.

Advantage: New York


Intangibles:

New York is 11-26-7 since 1996 at DC, but the Red Bulls are on a 4-0-1 run against their biggest rival. New York’s last loss to DC came during the 2014 playoffs, a 2-1 defeat at RFK that allowed the Red Bulls to advance on aggregate.  Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam each have five all-time goals against DC.  Chris Rolfe (out due to concussion) leads current DC players with seven goals and four assists against New York. Luis Robles has allowed 0.67 goals per match over nine matches against DC. Friday’s forecast calls for clearing skies after 14 hours of rain, with a kickoff temperatures in the low seventies. DC has been averaging just over 15,000 fans per match at decaying RFK, good enough for 17th in the league. The Friday night kickoff will suppress the amount of traveling fans.

Advantage: DC United


Prediction:

DC has been shut out by Dallas, Toronto, and NYCFC so far at home this season, and New York, when focused, has as much defending talent as those teams. DC puts up a fight, but United is going in the wrong direction this season. The Red Bulls, on goals by BWP and sub Veron, add to DC’s misery in a two-nil win that prove that New York is truly back.