Red Bulls vs. Vancouver Preview

It’s Been A Long Time
Due to some quirky scheduling and Hurricane Irene, the Red Bulls haven’t played a match since August 20th. For most teams that would be a source of frustration, but for New York it could be just the thing they needed to turn the season around.

Going into the long break the Red Bulls were hobbled by injuries and had gone seven games without a victory. The three weeks off allowed the veteran team to rest and retool for the final eight games. Breaking up the run of bad games with a few weeks of badly needed rest could help the ice cold Red Bulls recover their confidence.

Also in the interim the rest of the Eastern Conference were kind enough to squander their opportunities to leave New York in the dust. Prior to the break the Red Bulls were barely clinging to a playoff spot while all the teams around them had games in hand. Now the Red Bulls are still sitting in a playoff spot but most teams have caught up on games or even left New York with a game in hand. The inept performance of their Eastern rivals has given New York a lifeline.

Not Long Enough For Some
The weeks off definitively improved the Red Bulls injury situation. Their talisman, Luke Rodgers, is now just a week away from returning to meaningful minutes as is goalkeeper Frank Rost. Jan Gunnar Solli will be ready to go tonight after missing time with a quad injury.

Still New York still have to face Vancouver without Rost and Rodgers. Roy Miller is also out after picking up an injury playing for Costa Rica midweek. Teemu Tainio will be out due to a red card suspension.

Without a designated back up for Miller the Red Bulls could go with Carlos Mendes, Chris Albright or even Solli. However Solli may called on to replace Tainio in central midfield in which case both Mendes and Albright would likely start. Depending on Solli’s role Dane Richards could be up top or back to his customary right midfield position. Richards’ role will determine whether Juan Agudelo will start or come off the bench.

Coming off a strong performance for Senegal, Bouna Coundoul will man the New York nets.

Everything’s Going Their Way
The deck is stacked in New York’s favor going into tonight’s match. Vancouver, an expansion side, is firmly entrenched in last place. New York is well rested and have everything to play for down the final stretch while Vancouver is already looking to next year. Vancouver has been dismal on the road this year with a 0-10-4 record away from Empire Field. New York could hardly pick a better matchup to kick off their drive to the playoffs.

Thierry Henry has already given this game the kiss of death by calling it a must win. Still there is absolutely no reason why New York shouldn’t win this game. They have much more talent, more to play for and will be feeding off a home crowd desperate for a win. If the Red Bulls lose this game the entire roster should quit soccer, the franchise should disband and Red Bull Arena should be turned into a Museum of Mediocrity.

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