Sunday, 5:00 pm, the New York Red Bulls will be LA taking on lowly Chivas USA in a game that will probably see less than 10,000 in attendance. NY goes in tied for first in the East, along side Sporting KC, at 39 points, and a congested Eastern Conference right behind them (10 points separate numbers 1 through 8). Chivas comes into the game dead last in the West at 18 points, just 5 points above last in MLS D.C. United (13 points). The Red Bulls also have only won 4 games on the road (4-3-6, 15 pts) all season. Road woes include, a 2-0 loss at Columbus, a 3-0 loss at Philadelphia, and a 0-0 draw at Toronto.
Now, most people expect the Red Bulls to win on Sunday, and on paper they should. Given this team's recent form though, nothing is certain. I even went with the old Seeing Red reverse curse on this week's Red Bull Rant, predicting a 1-0 loss, to try to help. The sad thing is, I could be absolutely right in my prediction.
NY is at a point in the season where they cannot afford a loss. Montreal & Houston both have two games in hand (currently at 38 & 36 points respectively). Chicago & New England (34 & 33 points) both have one game in hand. Assuming that Montreal & Houston both get at least 3 points, with all things remaining the same, the Red Bulls would be in 4th place. On top of that, NY's recent form is to play up (or down) to the level of their opponent. After Chivas, NY hosts D.C. United, but then gets into a stretch of games against possible playoff teams.
The Red Bulls can't afford to lose, especially with other teams having games to make up. This is a perfect opportunity for NY to get back to winning ways. Chivas played in a midweek game against FC Dallas (a 3-1 loss for the Goats); so they'll be on short rest, even though they won't have the travel issue that NY does. They've had a mostly down year. Their head coach (El Chelis) was fired earlier in the year. The organization is currently be sued for racial discrimination. They traded away Juan Agudelo to the Revolution. Dan Kennedy, a promising young keeper, mostly due to El Chelis, hasn't gotten a lot of playing time this year.
This team is ripe for NY to just destroy. Even though I predicted a loss, I truly expect them to absolutely curb stomp Chivas. There is no reason for NY to go into the Stub Hub Center on Sunday and come out with less than 3 points. If ever there was a must win game for NY this season, it's this one. They're taking on a truly inferior team with others breathing down their necks.