After what feels like a very long week-and-a-half layoff, the New York Red Bulls are back in action tonight against Sporting Kansas City at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls come into the game after trashing San Jose with an excellent performance and disposing of DC United courtesy of clinical finishing, sending out a warning to the rest of MLS that this team can be quite dangerous going forward.
Sporting KC have had a decidedly more disappointing couple of weeks. Because their new stadium is still under construction, their first home game of the season is on June 9, which means the first three months of their season are one very long road trip. They took a respectable total of four points from their first three games (against Chivas, Chicago, and Vancouver), but have lost their last three matches and have dropped to last place in the Eastern Conference.
The biggest positive so far for Kansas City has been the team's attack: they've scored twice as many goals (10) through five games as they did last season. Unfortunately for them, their defense has been much worse, as they've given up 12 goals and are yet to keep a clean sheet. Particularly worrying has been their defensive frailty near the end of games, with nine of those twelve goals conceded in the second half and five points dropped after being in a winning position at the 70th-minute mark.
All of this bodes well for the Red Bulls, who have been in great scoring form in their last two games. Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers have forged a good partnership up front, and New York has found the back of the net plenty of times in spite of rather anonymous performances by Dwayne De Rosario. Perhaps this will be the game when De Rosario rediscovers himself as an attacking threat -- if he does and the rest of the attack continues to play well, the Red Bulls could be positively frightening.
Today's game will also be an important one for a player who has done a lot for the MetroStars/RedBulls at the other end of the pitch, as the club will honor Mike Petke in a pre-match ceremony. Now a member of the Red Bulls' coaching staff and business office after retiring at the end of last season, Petke is the club's all-time leader in appearances (196) and minutes (14,060).
On the injury front, Austin da Luz and Corey Hertzog are still out, while Carlos Mendes could return to the bench after getting over the groin strain that ruled him out of the game against DC. Konrad Warzycha and Omar Bravo are out for Sporting, while former Red Bull Luke Sassano is listed as probable for the visitors.
Kickoff is at 7:30 PM, and the game will be on MSG for those of you who can't make it out to Red Bull Arena. As usual, we'll also have a Match Thread going here on Once A Metro for you to share your thoughts on the game. Let's go Red Bulls!