After a week of blame-laying, transfer rumors, and a bit of rest for the players, the New York Red Bulls head down to Texas for their match tonight with the Houston Dynamo. The Red Bulls have a game in hand over Houston, but defeat last week means that a victory for the Dynamo can push them ahead of New York into first place in the Eastern Conference.
Houston have had a mixed start to the season, with no wins from their first three, then three wins from four, but just a point from their last three games. The Red Bulls have already seen Houston once this season when the two sides drew 1-1 at Red Bull Arena on Matchday 3 despite a boatload of chances for New York in the second half. Since then, Houston have beaten Vancouver, New England, and DC United (all at home) before falling to the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC. Last weekend they held Real Salt Lake to a 0-0 draw, which bodes well for their chances against the Red Bulls.
Both of the Red Bulls' games against Houston last year finished in spectacular style -- although only one went New York's way. Sinisa Ubiparipovic (where is he now?) put the Red Bulls ahead early at the Cathedral of Football before Brian Ching leveled the scores in the middle of the second half. That set up a grandstand finish in which Juan Pablo Ángel scored the winner for New York with the last kick of the game. Down at Robertson Stadium the Red Bulls took the lead twice through Ángel, but Brian Mullan scored an 89th-minute equalizer for Houston.
The big injury news is (of course) that Thierry Henry has not traveled down to Texas because of knee injury. Carl Robinson is also out of the game because of a knee problem, and Sacir Hot is still with the US U-20s. Fortunately for the Red Bulls, Brian Ching and Danny Cruz have both been ruled out for Houston.
Kickoff is at 8:30 PM, and the game is on regular old MSG. As ever, we'll have a Match Thread going here on Once A Metro, so (if you've avoided the apocalypse) drop by and pray for Henry's knee, complain about our attacking set pieces, and make bets on how long it takes before Luke Rodgers gets sent off. Let's go Red Bulls.