Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by MARK FISHKIN

Two matches down and not a single goal scored does not offer much confidence in these 2016 New York Red Bulls, but the Shield holders are too talented for the drought to continue much longer.  New York has conceded five times to date, though one was on a penalty, and two occurred in injury time.

Nothing has gone to plan for Jesse Marsch’s squad, but the 2016 debut of Gonzalo Veron, along with the return of Ronald Zubar from suspension, should give Red Bulls fans hope. Surprising Houston is this week’s opponent, fresh off a five-nil pasting of in-state rival FC Dallas.

With New York at full strength, and the Dynamo missing some key pieces, can the Red Bulls finally capture some points?


Match Information:

Saturday, March 19th at Red Bull Arena. 7:00p ET kickoff
TV/Streaming: MSG2/MSG GO (for Optimum and Xfinity subscribers)
Red Bulls Radio: TuneIn App and www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio
Referee: Jair Maruffo

Regular Season Record, GF/GA, Division and League Position, Recent Form

New York, 0 points from 2 matches, 0GF/5GA, t-9th in the East, t-17th in MLS, LL
Houston, 4 points from 2 matches, 8GF/3GA, t-2th in the West, t-2nd in MLS, DW


Projected Lineups:

New York

NY v HOU

Houston

HOUvNY


New York’s front line vs. the Dynamo defense:
Gonzalo Veron and Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. DaMarcus Beasley, Raul Rodriguez, David Horst, and Jalil Anibaba (and Joe Willis)

Held scoreless for 180 minutes, last season’s highest scoring team is thrilled to have Gonzalo Veron on the field. Veron’s speed and technical ability will likely stretch the Houston back line that shut out FC Dallas last week. Bradley Wright-Phillips had more decent looks against Montreal last week than he did in the opener against Toronto, but shots were directed straight at the Impact’s Evan Bush.  The ageless DaMarcus Beasley is still motoring for Houston. Despite five seasons in Chicago and two-plus in Texas, 2015 saw Beasley’s most appearances (28) in his storied MLS tenure. Spaniard Rodriguez is starting his second season in the league. The Barcelona native scored twice for the Dynamo last year.  The 6’4” David Horst scored last week vs. Dallas, and is such a presence in the middle for Houston that New York may have to alter its crossing game and come through the middle. Jalil Anibaba comes to the Dynamo after stints at Chicago, Seattle, and Kansas City.  Red Bulls fans should recognize Houston backup keeper Joe Willis, who as a member of DC United stopped Kenny Cooper’s famous penalty re-kick in the 2012 playoffs at Red Bull Arena.

Advantage: Even


Houston’s attack vs. the Red Bull defense:
Will Bruin vs. Kemar Lawrence, Gideon Baah, Ronald Zubar, and Sal Zizzo (and Luis Robles).

Will Bruin’s goal totals have jumped each season since 2013, and he already has a goal and two assists on the young season.  Gideon Baah had some strong and some very, very weak moments against Montreal, making a poor pass that led directly to the Impact’s opening goal.  He’ll be glad to have Ronald Zubar back next to him. Given Zubar’s questionable tackles in the playoffs last season and in 2016, he’ll be watched closely by the officials. Zizzo and Lawrence have to avoid getting caught upfield. The Red Bulls have given up goals on the counter in both matches. Robles needs to make some stops.

Advantage: Houston


The Midfields:
Sacha Kljestan, Dax McCarty, Felipe, and Lloyd Sam vs. Lionel Miranda, Rico Clark, Oscar Boniek Garcia, Alex, and Andrew Wenger

To date this season, neither Kljestan nor Sam has impressed, and New York’s attack has suffered significantly. Kljestan has given the ball away with regularity, and Sam hasn’t shown the speed or sharpness Red Bulls fans are accustomed to seeing from him.  In general, McCarty and Felipe have played well, but they’re not going to generate scoring opportunities without help.  Houston will be without the newly acquired Christian Maidana (1G), who left last week’s match with a head injury after leading the Dynamo to a four-nil lead. Giles Barnes (1G) has a hamstring strain and is listed as doubtful.  Lionel Miranda (1A) is a 22 year-old Argentine who combines speed and skill. Former Metro Rico Clark (1G/1A) is starting his tenth season in Houston and will play in his 280th league match on Saturday. Boniek Garcia is slowing down at age 31, but still can make a killer pass. Defensive midfielder Alex has played only eighteen times since the start of the 2015 season.  Finally, Andrew Wenger (2G/2A) has been an early-season revelation for Houston. The 2012 number one Superdraft pick has bounced from Montreal and Philadelphia, where he had a career high six goals and four assists in 2014.  The change of scenery for the right wing seems to have worked.

Advantage: Even


The Coaches:

Jesse Marsch is having a tough start to his second season, and is surely hoping that Veron can lift his team’s spirits. While a win on Saturday isn’t a must, New York’s offense need to be sharper and must score a goal to satiate the fans.  Owen Coyle’s side on the other hand, is ahead of schedule, scoring an average of four goals per match and collecting a signature win last week against their number one rival. Still, given Saturday is Houston’s first road match, and with the Dynamo’s key injuries, Coyle will be truly tested for the first time in 2016.

Advantage: Even


Intangibles:

New York has lost three matches to open a season twice before, in 1996 and 1998. The MetroStars made the playoffs in both of those seasons. Colorado holds the record for a scoreless start to an MLS season with a 383-minute drought in 2007.  Last season, the Red Bulls lost to the Dynamo in Houston 4-2 after Mike Grella scored to give New York a one-nil halftime lead.  New York is 8-1-4 all-time against the Dynamo at home, the only loss coming in overtime of the second leg of the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The forecast for Saturday night is overcast skies, with temperatures dropping through the low forties. The crowd will not be close to a sellout.

Advantage: New York


Prediction:
Given the returning players to New York’s lineup, and the injury casualties to Houston, the Red Bulls will breakthrough in a big way on Saturday, scoring early and using the press effectively to throttle the Dynamo in a 3-1 victory. Expect goals from Veron, BWP, Kljestan, and Wenger.

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  • Dax

    Prediction.
    MetroBulls 1
    Houston Clash 5
    Coach resigns after the game

  • Beef Soda

    What a sh*tty crowd tonight.
    Saturday night game and lower tier is 60% full. Upper deck 90% empty
    Nowhere to get a beer but 1 (yes 1) beer station.
    10’000 tonight tops.
    MLS will lose this team if this keeps up.
    F*ng depressing.