Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. DC United

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by MARK FISHKIN

Had the Red Bulls been able to conquer the league’s worst team on Wednesday, New York would take the field Sunday at Red Bull Arena knowing a victory over DC United would put them on top of the Eastern Conference for the first time since April.  Instead, New York can nail down its fourth Atlantic Cup in six years with at least a draw this week against the Red Bulls’ oldest rival.

Still, Sunday’s six-pointer, the final regular season matchup between the clubs, will play a role in determining which side winds up with this year’s Eastern crown.


 

Match Information:

Sunday, August 30th at Red Bull Arena. 7p ET kickoff

TV/Streaming: Fox Sport 1/Fox Sports GO

Audio: Red Bulls Radio: www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio

Referee: Jair Marruffo


Record, GF/GA, Division and League Position, Recent Form:

New York, 39 points from 24 matches, 40 GF/28 GA, 2nd in the East, 6th in MLS, WDWWL

DC United, 44 points from 27 matches, 35 GF/31 GA, 1st in the East, 3rd in MLS, WWWLL


The New York front line vs. the United defense:
Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Taylor Kemp, Steven Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Sean Franklin (and Bill Hamid)

Bradley Wright-Phillips was effectively nullified by the Chicago back line on Wednesday.  The Fire held BWP to four shots, and none on target, at Toyota Park.  DC has conceded eleven goals over the club’s last five matches, shutting out only the pre-Drogba Impact in Montreal.  Kemp (1G/5A) has played every minute of DC’s last nine league matches. Birnbaum (1G) returns to the centerback position after sitting out United 2-0 home loss to San Jose last week. Boswell has played in every DC league match for the past two seasons. With Chris Korb done for the year with an ACL injury, Franklin, who has started at midfield this season for DC, will start at right back. Hamid also returns to the lineup for DC, though he did concede two goals to New York in each of the two previous matches between the clubs this spring.

Advantage: New York


The DC attack vs. the Red Bulls defense:

Alvaro Saborio and Jairo Arrieta vs. Kemar Lawrence, Damien Perrinelle, Young Matt Miazga, and Connor Lade (and Luis Robles)

DC has scored only twice over the club’s last three matches and incredibly won one of them, at Montreal, while taking only a single shot on goal.  33-year-old former RSL man Saborio has two goals in five appearances for United since being traded to the squad on July 16th. Saborio dropped a hat trick on the Red Bulls for RSL in July of 2013 in his last appearance at Red Bull Arena.  Arrieta hasn’t registered a point in 140 minutes against New York this year.  The Red Bulls defense didn’t just bend versus Chicago on Wednesday, it broke.  New York conceded more than two goals in a match for only the second time this season at the Fire, who used effective counters and speedy wing play to pull the back line apart. Wednesday was only the second time that Ronald Zubar played in the middle with Matt Miazga, and it showed.  The Red Bulls will be bolstered by the return of first-choice starters Kemar Lawrence and Damien PerrinelleLade will be called upon once again on the right, and will have to contend with Rolfe. Robles will want to prove that the tricky goals he conceded midweek were merely a blip in an otherwise stellar year.  After the match, Miazga will head to the US U23 camp, while Karl Ouimette will join the Canadian National Team.

Advantage: New York


 

The Midfields:

Shaun Wright-Phillips, Felipe, Dax McCarty, Gonzalo Veron, and Lloyd Sam vs. Chris Rolfe, Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, and Nick DeLeon

New York’s midfield was bossed around at Toyota Park on Wednesday night, which was a prime factor in the Red Bulls’ first loss since July 4thMike Grella was dispossessed easily by Chicago’s Matt Polster, leading to the Fire’s first goal. He’ll sit for Shaun Wright-Phillips, then come in as a super sub.  Veron didn’t start in Chicago, but will on Sunday, providing a wrinkle DC hasn’t seen yet this season. The rest of the Red Bulls’ midfield stays the same. Despite more flashy players on his roster, MLS veteran Chris Rolfe leads United in scoring (9G/4A). Kitchen’s numbers (3G/1A) are down from his 5G/4A performance of last season. Arnaud (3A) doesn’t have an MLS points since May.  DeLeon (2G/4A) killed New York late in the clubs’ 2012 Eastern Conference playoff series at Red Bull Arena with the deciding goal in the 88th minute of the second leg.

Slight Advantage: New York


 

The Coaches:

Jesse Marsch was unable to leverage a ten-day break into three points at Chicago, though the New York skipper knows the importance of winning rivalry matches. Getting players back from injuries and suspensions will help, too. Ben Olsen’s team has hit a rough patch of late, and has suffered without the injured Fabian Espindola.  Still, Olsen knows how to win ugly, and DC has done a whole lot of that this season.

Advantage: Even


Intangibles:

United has scored only eight goals on the road in thirteen matches, which conceding only thirteen times. DC has scored twenty of the club’s thirty-five goals this season in after the sixtieth minute.  United has led at halftime only five times in twenty-seven matches. DC’s roster is littered with MLS veterans. Seven United players (Franklin, E. Johnson, Arnaud, Espindola, Rolfe, Kitchen, & Boswell) have collected over 150 league appearances. For the Red Bulls, only McCarty can make that claim. New York is 7-2-2 at home this season and hasn’t lost to DC this season. The Red Bulls have defeated DC the last four times United has visited Red Bull Arena. With his next goal, Wright-Phillips will move past Clint Mathis into sole possession of fourth place in New York’s all-time league list.  Kickoff will occur under partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures in the low eighties. While not a sellout, tomorrow’s attendance should surpass twenty-thousand.

Advantage: New York


 

Prediction:

New York played its starters mid-week while DC rested theirs in a home CCL win against Montego Bay United.  Expect many cards, including the possibility of a red in this rivalry match. Saborio will score for DC, BWP for New York, but Gonzalo Veron will be the difference in a hotly contested New York victory that will further tighten the Eastern Conference.

  • El CB

    DC has done the most with the least talent in MLS. Lately they have come back to earth. However RBNY have been overachievers too. Will be interesting to see if Wednesday’s debacle against Chicago signals the beginning of RBNY’s own landing back to reality. Hopefully it won’t. It would probably help If Kemar returns and Veron starts or is finally given some real playing time,

    • Andrew Bissonette

      If Lawrence and Perrinelle do indeed start, New York will be fine. If we keep our heads, the boys will show that they are indeed the better team. I’m praying that we see Veron for the full 90, because I think he will terrorize the DC fullbacks.