The New York Red Bulls, coming off of their second win in 2014, a 4-0 trashing of the Houston Dynamo, travel to Columbus to take on the 2nd place Columbus Crew.
Here's what we know:
Consistency Can Work
For the first time all year, the Red Bulls started most of the same from the game before, with the only difference this week being the absence of Ibrahim Sekgaya due to a red card suspension. The fact that 10/11 players started in the exact same position for a second straight week may not have been the reason for the Red Bulls' dominant performance, but it certainty didn't hurt. We can expect pretty much the same lineup in Columbus.
Red Bulls Road Form
The Red Bulls are 0-2-2 on the road with a goal difference of -4. That goal difference is a little skewed by a 4-1 loss to open the year at Vancouver. However, the Red Bulls, except for a visit to Chicago, have not looked good on the road. They've always gotten off to slow starts. When they have turned it on, they still weren't able to get a win. Two straight wins help with confidence, but playing away from home is not the same.
Red Bulls Scoring Touch
The Red Bulls found their scoring touch against Houston. In their previous seven games, the Red Bulls had never scored more than 2 goals in a single game. They finally got some real offense going, even if 3 of the goals were typical poacher goals by Bradley Wright-Phillips. The real important part about the four goal performance was how they got the goals. Typically MLS teams don't play the "beautiful" style that you see out of teams like Barcelona. New York didn't really play that way, but they showed traces of it that really got to Houston, allowing them to find the open spaces. Whether that'll continue against Columbus is to be seen.
Here's what we don't know:
For the second time in 3 week, the Red Bulls will be playing on short rest. It didn't affect the team last time, but they only traveled from D.C. to New York. This time, they'll be travelling to Columbus with 1 less day of rest. It's not clear how the older legs on the team will hold up as they haven't gone through a week like this yet.
Will Cahill play this week? He was kept out of the game against Houston for a lingering hamstring injury. Op top of that, the team has played well the last two weeks without him in the lineup. He brings an aerial threat that not a lot of people on this team can bring. Will Petke play him or let him rest his hamstring more? Is it worth bringing Cahill into the lineup right now if it breaks up the chemistry from the last few games?
The Scoreboard at Crew Stadium
When the Red Bulls and Crew play on Saturday, it'll be almost one year earlier that the scoreboard at Crew Stadium caught on fire during a match between Columbus and D.C. Columbus plans to upgrade the scoreboard as part of planned upgrades to the stadium. Will the stadium catch on fire again and accelerate the process?