(HARRISON) The fortress known as Red Bull Arena, has provided a lot of prosperity in what has been a great season for New York Red Bulls.
Red Bulls’ manager Chris Armas and his men will now look to get back on track against the team that defeated them in the U.S. Open Cup final last year, and one of the best teams in the Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City. Much like the New York City FC game, SKC will propose similar challenges that NYRB will have to deal with in order to maintain their strong record at home.
“We know them (SKC) well,” Armas said at practice this week. “We faced off against them a couple of times last year and of course the Open Cup final. We have a lot of respect for them and clearly you see why they’re one of the best teams in the league week in and week out. We’ll be prepared to battle with them and on our home field we always like our chances. We push games, we’re aggressive and we’re going to go for it at home, big three points is in our plans.”
NYRB will have a great opportunity to pick up three points in this game and continue to close the gap on Atlanta United and NYC FC in the standings, but there are a few things they must do.
NYRB come into the game 6-1-1 at home this year and there is one key in 5 out of their 6 wins this season, they had the lead going into halftime. When this team is able to jump on teams early and get a goal, they tend to put a lot of pressure on the opposition and force them into mistakes. The center back pairing of Aaron Long and Tim Parker have played well and the defense has conceded one goal in the last 360 minutes at Red Bull Arena. An early goal could leave SKC chasing the game and susceptible on the counter.
SKC’s ability to get the ball wide and space the field team is comparable to NYC FC and could cause the Red Bulls problems. Watching the Open Cup final last year, the first goal was a perfect example of that. SKC has also shown how dangerous they are on the counter and NYRB’s backline and midfield will need to be in constant communication and be able to maintain their focus if they want to win this game.
Try to Find Florian Valot’s Replacement
Losing a player like Valot who’s played so well this season is a blow for NYRB. The biggest question for Armas is who will replace him? Alex Muyl has impressed when given the chance this season with not only his defensive qualities but his offensive ones as well. Derrick Etienne Jr. has impressed when he has spelled Bradley Wright Phillips off the bench and could add another dimension to the attack. Marc Rzatkowski who has put in some good shifts this year is another option as well. In a big game against one of the best teams in the Western Conference a good performance from one of them could be a confidence boost going forward.
Players to Watch
Bradley Wright-Phillips has been terrific for the Red Bulls this season in scoring and providing goals for his teammates. He currently sits tied in second place in Major League Soccer with 11 goals this year and has scored in 7 out of the 8 games at Red Bull Arena. They aren’t many players in the league that are a constant threat like BWP and he will look to climb closer to the 100 goal milestone in this game.
For the visitors, Daniel Salloi has been one of the main threats. The 21-year-old Hungarian missed SKC’s last game against Toronto FC due to suspension, but has 6 goals on the year which is tied for the team lead. The forward has scored three goals in his last 5 league games and scored twice in a 3-2 win over FC Dallas in the Open Cup as well. Salloi is also second on the team in assists with six on the season, so NYRB will have to be aware of his ability to set up his teammates as well.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography