At least it's not raining today. Photo Credit: Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE
Today's match between the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution was never one that many fans had circled on their calendars, and two factors may keep viewership, and attendance, particularly low. First, there are multiple other New York market teams playing compelling games this afternoon. The Knicks first playoff game against the Miami Heat is being televised at 3 pm. The Rangers have a home playoff game also starting around the same time as the Red Bulls. The Yankees have an afternoon home game today. Hell, even Mel Kiper and the ESPN crew will still be covering the late rounds of the NFL draft. It's a good thing that Red Bulls President of Business Operations Chris Heck is going after New York fans, rather than soccer fans!
Second, and of much more interest and importance to Red Bull fans, an unprecedented amount of missing players will make the starting eleven today look like something Hans Backe might put together for an Open Cup qualification game. We ran through the list of injuries and single suspension that will force a lot of unfamiliar players into the starting lineup earlier in the week, but most notably fill-ins Brandon Barklage, Tyler Ruthven, and Connor Lade will need to stay organized to shore up a defensive back four that has been horrendous early on.
New England hasn't played since two weekends ago and will be well-rested but may come out a little slow to start the match, an opportunity that the Red Bulls must capitalize on. Since the Red Bulls still boast two of Major League Soccer's top goal scorers in Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper, New York could still pull off a result today despite missing so many players. But to do so, the midfield must defend and get forward much better than they did against DC United last weekend. The possible re-inclusion of Joel Lindpere into the starting lineup may help, but Dane Richards and Dax McCarty in particular cannot get pushed around by the New England midfield, which is actually the Revolution's strongest area on the field. Shalrie Joseph, Lee Nguyen, Clyde Simms, and Kelyn Rowe have played well this season, but aren't bolstered by a particularly impressive attack or defense. Benny Feilhaber is likely to see some minutes as well as he is fighting to regain a starting spot after an early season injury.
Whether you're headed to Red Bull Arena or flipping between five channels at home on TV, enjoy the match and let's hope for better quality soccer than we saw last week against DC United.