That New York Red Bulls vs. Chivas USA match that occurred way back on May 23 seems like forever ago. Granted, the Red Bulls both won and lost in US Open Cup play since their last MLS game, but those contests just aren't the same for at least this fan. As one should expect from the 2012 Red Bulls heading into any MLS weekend, New York will be missing at least a couple of lineup mainstays when they take on the Chicago Fire (June 17, 5:00 pm ET kickoff). While I normally wouldn't think such absences would present too much of a problem for the team that's currently second in the MLS East, I can't help but be a little concerned about this upcoming match
3 thoughts heading into Chicago Fire vs. NY Red Bulls: Missing man I
On the surface, playing away games without having Thierry Henry in the team shouldn't worry Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. After all, Kenny Cooper, currently tied for the league lead in goals (both Cooper and Chris Wondolowski currently have 11 goals), has definitely carried his own weight, and New York have shown an ability to locate the back of the net multiple times without having their team captain on the field. With that said, Henry has played in just one game since April 28. While I know that he doesn't need the on-the-pitch experience, I'd still like to see Henry playing with this particular lineup more than once a month. The team's current run has been nice and all, but they weren't nearly as fluid with Henry back on the field against Chivas USA as I would have liked.
3 thoughts heading into Chicago Fire vs. NY Red Bulls: Missing Man II
No Rafa Marquez, no problem; as long as Dax McCarty is in the team and he continues to play as well as he did throughout May. Regardless of what we hear from members of the Red Bulls front office, the Marquez transfer rumors continue to swirl as summer draws near. All indications are that RBNY are not willing to part with Marquez if it means taking any significant monetary loss. Things could get very interesting during the transfer window, however, if New York prove they can routinely win without the controversial defender-turned-midfielder in the team, AND (capitalized on purpose) if the Red Bulls eventually get a decent offer for Marquez.
3 thoughts heading into Chicago Fire vs. NY Red Bulls: Prediction
Chicago Fire have thus far been a perfectly average MLS side, they've lost three in a row, and the Red Bulls appear to be true title contenders. No-brainer, right? Not so much. New York, like Chicago, haven't played a match since the first week in June, so you have to toss away all runs of form that existed heading into the international break. Truth be told, the break probably came at the worst possible time for a New York side that didn't lose a single match in May.
There's something about a Sunday afternoon game at Chicago that has me expecting the worst. The Red Bulls jumped ahead at Chicago last summer, but they eventually lost that advantage before the hour-mark of the match. They held on for the 1-1 draw and the away point last June, and I'm expecting a similar result this time around. That's a solid away point earned considering the Red Bulls haven't faced any MLS opponent in almost a month.