Preview: New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by MARK FISHKIN

What slow start?

The Red Bulls are 6-1-1 in their last eight across all competitions. They are also riding five straight clean sheets.

Despite not playing their best on Sunday night, New York continues to exorcise the demons of their poor start. Now comes a brutal stretch of the campaign which includes two matches per week for more than a month, and four straight matches away from home. The death march starts in Utah, where New York hasn’t won since 2008. RSL has slowed a bit, but is undefeated at home this year.

Can the Red Bulls steal a result?


Match Information

Wednesday, June 22nd at Rio Tinto Stadium, 10p ET kickoff

TV/Streaming: MSG/MSG Go (Optimum and xfinity subscribers)

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

Referee: Fotis Bazakos: 54 gms, YC/gm: 3.8, 12 RC, 18 pens

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

RSL: 24 points from 14 gms, 25GF/23GA, 3rd in the West, 3rd in MLS, LWLWD

New York: 22 points from 15 gms, 26GF/20GA, 2nd in the East, 5th in MLS, LWWWW


Projected Lineups

Salt Lake

RSL v NY

New York

NY v RSL


RSL’s attack vs. the New York back line

Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan, and Juan Manuel Martinez vs. Connor Lade, Aurelien Collin, Gideon Baah, and Sal Zizzo (and Luis Robles)

Salt Lake’s well-balanced three-headed attack has scored 15 times so far this season. The diminutive Joao Plata (5G/6A) is in his sixth MLS campaign despite being all of  24-years-old. Argie DP Martinez (5G/2A) leads the team in fouls suffered (34). Returning hero Movsisyan (5G) played in MLS from 2006-2009 before heading to Europe and scoring in the Europa League while with Spartak Moscow.  For the Red Bulls, better finishing by Sunday night’s opponent would have easily ended the club’s impressive clean sheet streak. Still, giving Collin a rest for most of the match will prove dividends on Wednesday. Lade was his usual trusty self against the Sounders, with a key block early. With Zubar off with a muscle twinge, Baah gets a start in the center. Zizzo has appeared in 14 of 15 New York matches this year. Luis Robles now has five shutouts on the year, one behind league leader Clint Irwin.

Slight Advantage: RSL


The Red Bulls front line vs. the Salt Lake defense

Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Chris Wingert, Aaron Maund, Justen Glad, and Tony Beltran (and Nick Rimando)

Despite a quiet night against Seattle, Bradley Wright-Phillips sits tied for third on the league’s scoring list (8G/2A). Long Island’s Chris Wingert is back with RSL after spending 2015 with NYCFC. Wingert played in the first two Hudson Derby matches against the Red Bulls. Aaron Maund is a valuable part of the RSL machine. The club lost both matches that Jeff Cassar kept the Massachusetts native on the bench. Homegrown teenager Glad (1G/1A) has played for US youth teams at U17, U18, and U20 levels. Beltran (1A) is in his ninth season at RSL. The number three pick in the 2008 SuperDraft, Beltran was a teammate of Sal Zizzo on the 2007 US U20 World Cup team. Nick Rimando is on pace to concede 40 goals for the first time since the MLS legend allowed 40 with DC United in 2002. RSL has conceded eight times in their last three league matches

Slight Advantage: New York


The Midfields

Javier Morales, Luke Mulholland, and Sunday Stephen vs. Gonzalo Veron, Felipe, Sacha Kljestan, Sean Davis, and Mike Grella

New York gets a break with club talisman Kyle Beckerman away with the USMNT. Savvy vet Morales (1G/2A) is further down the RSL scoring chart than usual, but the ageless Argentinian can produce with little time and space. Englishman Mulholland (2G/2A) nabbed a goal and an assist in a 4-3 loss to Columbus on May 28th. Nigerian journeyman Sunday “Sunny” Stephen (1G/1A) is a box-to-box midfielder who has integrated well to the RSL system. The Red Bulls will look to rotate the squad with Veron (1G) coming off of suspension. MLS Player of the Week Mike Grella (6G/3A) will shift to the right side for Lloyd Sam. Sean Davis, after a solid appearance against Rochester in the Open Cup, will give McCarty a rest. Kljestan, who played only 61 minutes against Seattle (2G/10A), will be the constant in the middle.

Advantage: New York


The Coaches

Former goalkeeper Jeff Cassar was named the third coach in RSL history when Jason Kries left the club for New York City. In each of Salt Lake’s campaigns under Cassar, the club has started strong (6-0-6 in 2015, 4-0-2 this year), then faded a bit. He misses Beckerman’s calming presence in midfield and Mulholland doesn’t exactly have the same skill. Still, Cassar’s squad is very tough to play at home. Jesse Marsch was right. The New York coach pledged patience after the team’s rough start, and the Red Bulls have righted the ship with form worthy of the Supporters Shield holders. Marsch’s next trick will be surviving five straight weeks of matches every three or five days in the summer heat. Should New York emerge in late July unscathed, Red Bulls fans will be eating out of his hand.

Advantage: Even


Intangibles

New York has won only once in Utah (1-4-5 all-time) — the win coming in the 2008 Western Conference Final, on Dave van den Bergh’s shot that sent the Red Bulls to their only MLS Cup appearance. New York hasn’t conceded in their last nine halves of league play, while scoring 13 times. Saturday’s home draw vs. Portland is RSL’s only blemish on their Rio Tinto slate to date (4-0-1 at home). Salt Lake has scored 12 of their 25 league goals after the 60th minute. New York has conceded 8 of 20 goals during that period. Last year, the Red Bulls rode Mike Grella’s early goal to a 1-0 victory. New York is 2-0-1 against RSL since 2013. Temps will be dropping through the upper seventies at kickoff. Despite the midweek date, Salt Lake fans should pack Rio Tinto.

Advantage: Even


Predictions

New York’s schedule until late July looks like this: WED-SAT-WED-SAT-WED-SUN-WED-SUN-WED-SUN-SUN, including Open Cup matches and exhibitions. The Red Bulls’ next four matches are on the road. The team will drop points over this brutal stretch. RSL has been difficult at home, but Bradley Wright-Phillips will score for New York in a 1-1 draw that the club will gladly accept as they prepare for the next road test.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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