After what felt like a missed opportunity against New York City FC, the New York Red Bulls will look to return to winning ways as they host traditional rival D.C. United on Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena.
Preview: Red Bulls face second rival in five days as D.C. United comes to town
While 21 points separate the two teams in the Eastern Conference, this Atlantic Cup matchup will be intense as ever. United will be looking to extend their winning streak to four wins in a row.
The midseason signing of Wayne Rooney and the opening of the new Audi Field have buoyed D.C. in recent weeks. The team from the nation’s capital has won five of the six games at their new stadium. The one game they did not win was a loss to the Red Bulls, in which Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 100th Major League Soccer goal.
After Wednesday night’s disappointing draw with City, Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis said there were lessons to be learned.
“I think one of the big things is having a calmness about our approach in the second half and knowing if we are up a man we can control the game with the ball,” said Davis. “Having better runs and possession will be really useful for us going forward.”
This game will be the third of five for the Red Bulls in a span of 15 days. Head Coach Chris Armas might be tempted to rotate his starting lineup for the game. That said, with the return of suspended full back Michael Murillo and the Supporters’ Shield race continuing to be tight, Armas might be forced to play his strongest team.
Players to Watch
The Austrian attacking midfielder has been performing well and well again in recent games for the Red Bulls. In his last five appearances, Royer has five goals and two assists. As the final third of the season starts, the Red Bulls will be hoping that he can continue to contribute.
While Rooney has gotten the headlines since joining D.C., it has been Acosta that has been scoring for fun. The diminutive Argentine attacker has four goals and one assist in last three games, including a dramatic hat trick against Orlando City. The service Rooney has given Acosta has been superb, and he will be relying on more of that on Sunday.
The Red Bulls and their supporters will be motivated as ever to defeat their traditional rivals, but being in the middle of an exhausting stretch of games may slow them down. The Red Bulls and D.C. face off at 7pm Sunday August 26 on Fox Sports 1.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography