Normally, a game in which the New York Red Bulls hang four goals on their opponent should be a reason for celebration. Unfortunately, such isn't the case after last Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire. Chicago, or to be more specific, Harrison Shipp, had his way with New York's back line, netting a hat trick and helping his team score four goals in the span of about twenty minutes. While the Red Bulls put in their best effort towards a comeback, the final whistle blew and New York suffered their first home loss of 2014. Now it's time for Petke and company to put the loss behind them as they prepare to travel north of the border for this week's match against Toronto FC.
Here's what we know:
- Toronto is coming off of a short week.
Toronto FC only has three days and 3,000 miles between the Canadian Championship game they played on Wednesday night in Vancouver and the match this coming Saturday in Toronto. That kind of travel with so little rest will take it's toll on the even the fittest teams in the league. Added to the stress, Vancouver made the Reds run...a lot. Wednesday's match went all they way to PKs, so there's a good possibility that Toronto will be playing on tired legs. Look for a more rested New York to take advantage.
Anyone claiming that the thought of Michael Bradley going up against the Red Bulls' midfield isn't completely terrifying is either a liar, or has never watched a game of soccer in their lives. The American midfield stalwart has been bossing the run of play since he returned to MLS, not only acting as a creative passer to spring his forwards, but also making unbelievable runs and driving defenses crazy. Luckily for the Red Bulls and the United States of America, the general has been called up to World Cup duty and won't be playing this Saturday.
- No trouble scoring
As evidenced by the four goals (three coming from Bradley Wright-Phillips) scored against the Fire, New York isn't having any problems putting the ball in the back of the net. BWP is on an absolute scoring tear, leading the league with nine goals while Thierry Henry, Lloyd Sam and Eric Alexander have been assist wizards. Toronto may have made some drastic improvements over the off season, but none of them have been to their defense. The Red Bulls are going to be looking to exploit that weakness....though the same could probably be said for Toronto.
Here's what we don't know:
- Who's filling in for Miller?
To the shock of everyone, Roy Miller has been one of New York's most consistent and important players of the 2014 season. Now that the Costa Rican International has been called up to the World Cup, the Red Bulls are left with a massive hole at left back. So who does Mike Petke decide to slot into Miller's place? Will Bobby Convey finally return to the pitch, and if he does, is he really the best choice? Remember, Connor Lade filled in at left back for a few weeks in 2012 and handled the job with aplomb. Will the diminutive fan favorite finally get his chance?
- And what about on the right?
Kosuke Kimura will have three solid games on the right side and then he'll lay an egg like he did against Chicago. When he's bad, he's really bad. So what now? It's absolutely likely that we'll see Richard Eckersley trotted out to face his old team. There seems to be a running theme of former teammates coming back to burn their former clubs, so it may not be such a bad idea. If not Eckersley, perhaps this will be rookie Chris Duvall's first chance at some first team minutes.
- Will history repeat itself?
The last time New York lost hard to Chicago, Mike Petke made some changes and led the boys in white to go unbeaten in nine of their next ten matches. Could we see the same kind of response now?