It's been over four months since the New York Red Bulls were thrashed 4-1 by DC United at RFK, but that match should be fresh on the minds of all players in the New York team on Wednesday night. Above everything else, that April encounter offered a powerful reminder to the Red Bulls that a game can get out of hand very quickly. New York nearly fell into a similar trap this past Sunday night during their away match against Sporting KC. RBNY supporters may have visions of revenge heading into this contest, but the Red Bulls squad must remain calm and composed if they're going to earn a positive result against the club's hated rivals.
3 thoughts heading into DC United vs. NY Red Bulls: A happy return?
All reports indicate that New York will have captain Thierry Henry, who missed the team's clash with SKC this past weekend due to the birth of his son, when they take on DCU on Wednesday. On paper, having such a creative play-maker who also happens to be second on the team in league goals scored this season (11) should mean only good things for the Red Bulls. I can't help but think back to this past May, though, when Henry returned from a lengthy injury-caused absence for New York's home match against Chivas USA. Henry was perhaps a bit too eager to make a significant impact in that contest, demanding that the New York attack work through him and firing off seven total shots, only one of which was on target.
Being sidelined for a month because of a leg injury is not the same thing as taking a week off to spend some time with a newborn, of course. New York head coach Hans Backe indicated when speaking with reporters on Tuesday that his captain could be "flying" on the pitch on Wednesday evening. We've seen "that Henry" while with the Red Bulls multiple times over the past couple of years. It hasn't always meant good things for the New York attack.
3 thoughts heading into DC United vs. NY Red Bulls: Backe's choice
Others before me have pointed out that Backe will, outside of defender/midfielder Rafa Marquez (calf injury), have his choice of defenders for Wednesday night's showdown with DC. I'm eager to see the four guys Backe selects for his back line, as his starting eleven could give an indication of New York's first-choice lineup heading into September. Both Backe and Henry have, in discussions with reporters that took place earlier this season, talked about the importance of team chemistry and having one set starting lineup in place. On Wednesday evening, Backe will, intentionally or not, give fans a look at the New York squad that he sees most capable of winning it all this fall.
Will Brandon Barklage again feature at right back now that he is fully fit, or does that job belong to rookie Connor Lade? Out of form Roy Miller has seemingly lost the left back gig, and Backe could choose Heath Pearce or Wilman Conde for that position. The only thing we know for sure about New York's back line as of the posting of this piece is that Markus Holgersson is a mainstay at center back.
Injuries handcuffed Backe throughout spring and summer. That's a problem he won't have as he makes his final preparations for the team's game at DC. A back line that consists of Pearce, Holgersson, Conde and Barklage is, in my opinion, what's best for the Red Bulls this fall. We'll see if Backe agrees.
3 thoughts heading into DC United vs. NY Red Bulls: Prediction
DC and New York are teams faced with two very different scenarios at the end of August. The Red Bulls are trying to keep pace with San Jose and KC at the top of the overall league standings, while DC are a couple of unfavorable results away from being out of the top-five in the MLS East standings. Simply stated, United have way more to lose than do New York.
The problem for the Red Bulls is that DC don't lose that often at home in 2012. Their only league defeat at RFK this season came in a March 10 contest against KC. DC have gone 2-4-1 in their last seven, but they're still a very talented side, and they are already playing for their playoff lives. I see a miscue that happens early in the game again costing New York big, and DC ultimately holding on for a 2-1 victory.
For more: DCU vs. RBNY viewing party in Hoboken
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