The New York Red Bulls head back out on the road this weekend for a top-of-the-table clash with the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center tonight. New York comes into the game off the back of three straight clean sheets and victories, and could become the first MetroStars/Red Bulls side to win four games in succession since 2003.
The Galaxy are in first, just a point ahead of the Red Bulls in the overall MLS table, although they've played two more games than New York. LA are one of the better teams in the league on paper, but don't seem to have hit their stride yet this season, drawing a few games they were expected to win and losing to a very late stunner from Brek Shea last weekend.
The Red Bulls won 2-0 out in LA last year without Thierry Henry in a game which was certainly one of their best performances of the 2010 season. New York kept the ball and defended well after Dane Richards had put the Red Bulls ahead with a fortuitous goal in the first half. Juan Pablo Ángel (who?) scored from the spot after the break, and the Red Bulls chalked up a second win away to LA in their last three visits.
Despite New York's good recent record in Los Angeles, there is some cause for concern because of injuries. Teemu Tainio, a key (the key, perhaps) of the Red Bulls' midfield this season, will miss the game. This means that either Mehdi Ballouchy or Carl Robinson will move into the defensive midfield slot. Consequently, I will be cowering in fear for the entire match. Austin da Luz is also still out, and it looks like Chris Albright will make his long-anticipated return (well, I've been anticipating it) next midweek in a friendly against Montreal Impact.
Oh yeah, there will be five Designated Players in this game (which should tie an MLS record set last season's Chicago Fire-Red Bulls game), including some guy named David Beckham. No, I've never heard of him either.
Kickoff tonight is at 11 PM -- the latest Red Bulls kickoff I can recall for a few years. The game will be on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN3.com. As always, we'll have a Match Thread going here, so drop by and complain about how weak our midfield is without Teemu Tainio. Let's go Red Bulls!