The New York Red Bulls (1-4-2) return to Red Bull Arena after back-to-back road games in Kansas City and New England. After picking up only one point out of an available six, the Red Bulls are desperately looking to avoid landing in the conference cellar.
Luckily, the new kids on the block are coming into town, as league debutants FC Cincinnati (2-4-2), will play in Harrison for the first time ever.
Both teams are coming into this match up with a bad run as of late; The Red Bulls are winless in five games and FCC in four. There is not much separating the two teams either. Both are underneath the playoff line with the Red Bulls carrying a +4 goal differential over FCC, yet Cincinnati has 1 PPG, over the Red Bulls’ 0.71.
In those past five games, the red side of New York has been shut-out three times and has only scored three goals. They have yet to look or play like themselves for a full 90 minutes this season, and they’ll certainly look to take advantage of this year’s expansion side to look like the 2018 Supporters’ Shield Champions.
Players to Watch
With Kaku suspended for an additional two games, the Red Bulls are in urgent need for someone else to step up and reignite this team’s offense. They need that spark to give other players life while being a menace to the opposing backline. Many of the supporters are calling on Omir Fernandez to take that lead. In his first ever start for the Red Bulls, he scored his first professional goal. Did we mention it was in Mexico, against one of the top Liga MX teams, in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League?
In all his other appearances this year, his play has been exciting and has given the Red Bulls an additional attacking threat on the flanks, whether he starts or comes off the bench. Look for him to continue getting more minutes on the pitch and not just 15 to 20 minutes either. Expect him to be a starter come playoffs, barring any injuries or new signings.
For FC Cincinnati, it has to be the crafty US international, Kenny Saief. The latest player to join the expansion side joins them on loan from Belgium’s league giant, Anderlecht. In his team and league debut, he etched his name in the FCC history book by doing this:
He recorded their first ever MLS assist, doing so after 13 minutes on the pitch against the reigning MLS Champions, Atlanta United, in their home opener. In the following two matches, he helped his new team record their first ever MLS win in their home opener, then recorded his second assist along with his first goal to lead FCC to their first ever MLS away victory.
Out for Revenge?
Even though this is the first time they meet in league play, it is not the first time the Red Bulls faced off against Cincinnati. For the Red Bulls, it was a day to remember, as they punched their ticket to the 2017 US Open Cup Final. For FCC, it was a gut punch for the then-USL side and their sold-out crowd of over 33,000 fans, as they were looking to continue their Cinderella story. Expect Cincinnati to come into this one with an extra bit of motivation, possibly looking to exact some revenge on the Red Bulls.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography