After suffering their first loss of the young 2010 season last week, the Red Bulls (2-1-0, 6 pts.) return home to the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena and welcome in FC Dallas (0-0-2, 2 pts.). It's the first of two straight league home matches for New York, and after two weeks out west, the Red Bulls will be happy to return home and try to stay unbeaten at the new Arena.
The Red Bulls come in following a loss at Chivas USA which saw a disastrous gaffe by keeper Bouna Coundoul allow the Red Bulls to concede their first goal of the season. Other than Coundoul's error, despite not playing very well, the Red Bulls really could have earned a draw in the match, They were no worse than Chivas over the full ninety minutes, and were a bit unlucky on Chivas' first goal. Tonight they return home where they have yet to lose in two matches (one friendly, one league match), and take on an improved FC Dallas side who will be hungry for their first win of 2010. The Hoops come in off two draws against good sides, opening with ties against the Houston Dynamo and Columbus Crew.
Midfielder Carl Robinson is available for the match for the Red Bulls after suffering an injury way back on March 20th in the exhibition against Santos. Don't expect the Welshman to play the full ninety, but he should see some action. Robinson's return would be a welcome addition to the midfield. Although it was against largely a reserve side, the Red bulls looked their best in the Santos match with Robinson and Lindpere patrolling the center of midfield. Seth Stammler is a solid option as usual, and whichever one starts the match (depending on the way the game goes) will probably give way to the other, to get Robinson back in there. Here's how I expect to see the Red Bulls lineup:
Kandji Lindpere Robinson Richards
Miller Ream Petke Hall
I may be going out on a limb a little here, but it's possible that Hans Backe goes with a very attacking side to start the match. The Red Bulls have only scored twice in three matches this season, and have yet to get Juan Pablo Angel on the board. If Robinson returns, he can provide some more stability to the midfield, which may allow Backe to start Macoumba Kandji on the left. I think Salou gets the nod to start alongside Angel regardless. I don't think Backe and Erik Soler brought him in to sit the bench, and it seemed that Backe couldn't wait to get him in last week's match. We'll see if he starts, and if he does, how he helps the Red Bulls' attack.
The Red Bulls will have their work cut out for them, as FC Dallas is a very improved side from last year. They've improved between the pipes, as veteran Kevin Hartman has come on board. The Hoops also added US National Team defender Heath Pearce, who should immediately be one of the best outside backs in the league. Striker and MLS lifer Jeff Cunningham has experienced somewhat of a renaissance in the past few seasons, after struggling with Toronto FC. Cunningham scored 17 goals last season, and added one last week to open his 2010 account. It will be up to defenders Mike Petke and rookie Tim Ream to do the job on the speedy forward.
The Red Bulls have the look of a good home team, and it would serve them well if they could turn Red Bull Arena into a fortress. Tonight they stay unbeaten in their new home, and Juan Pablo Angel gets on the board (eventually, Angel will score, and I will probably predict him to score in every game until he does). The Red Bulls win 2-0, while Dane Richards joins Angel on the score sheet.