The New York Red Bulls (5-5-3) hit the road after a two-match home stand where they collected four points out of a possible six. This will be New York’s third game in seven days after edging out Atlanta with 10 men and tying Vancouver with a reserve-heavy squad.
They head to Nippert Stadium, the home field of expansion side FC Cincinnati (3-8-2), who are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 11 points and a -12 goal differential. FCC has only one win and three goals scored since their last match-up with RBNY four weeks ago.
There is a significant difference for FCC this time around. Head Coach Alan Koch was let go from the club after just the first 11 league games of their MLS existence. It came as a surprise to many that this was decided so quickly and early on in the season, but FCC was winless in seven games and had not scored a goal in five.
New York come into this one a different team as well than the last time they saw each. They’ve won four of the last six games, a streak that started with the win over Cincinnati. They’ve begun to play like the 2018 team that set the all-time league record for most points during the regular season.
They’re starting games with more intensity and look hungrier than the first seven games of this season. Of those last six games, they’ve scored the opening goal in five of them and have five first-half goals. Before these six games: one lead and one first half goal – which happen in the same game which was the opening game of 2019 in Columbus.
Players to Watch
Brian White has made a significant impact while on the field this year in helping RBNY get on the scoresheet and get points. He now has two goals and one assist in six games played and was the Man of the Match last game vs. Vancouver. However, he did play 80 minutes on Wednesday night. Who replaced him for the last 10 of that game? This guy:
I expect Head Coach Chris Armas to make that one-for-one switch in the starting line-up. Tom Barlow, who is still second in goals in the USL Championship with eight, has only been with the first team for 16 days and has played in three games with one start. With scoring his first MLS goal in a huge game against Atlanta, his confidence has to be through the roof.
For the Orange and Blue, their speedy forward Darren Mattocks is one always causing trouble to the opposing backline using his speed to stretch the defense while being dangerous in front of goal with his skill on the ball and a powerful shot:
He’s tied for first on the team with two goals on the year and has two assists, having started four of the past five games. Knowing the Red Bulls backline will look different from the midweek game, I expect him to try and get behind them, giving the back four headaches with his pace.
The 12th Man
FC Cincinnati set attendance records in the USL last year, averaging an attendance of 25,717. This year in its inaugural season in the MLS, Nippert Stadium has averaged a total of 27,362 in attendance in just the five home games they’ve played so far. For the inaugural home match, they had 32,250 in attendance. Quite the 12th man advantage.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography