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Can a Renamed Sporting Park and New Head Coach Help the Red Bulls?

The NY Red Bulls have not had success at Sporting Park since it opened in 2011. Will that change on Saturday?


Sporting Park, home of Sporting Kansas City, opened in 2011 as Livestrong Sporting Park. So far, the Red Bulls have failed to win at KC's new home. They lost in October 2011 2-0 in a lackluster road performance, capped off by Thierry Henry being shown an early exit after picking up a red card in the 28th minute for a harsh challenge. In 2011, NY managed to get a draw with a 1-1 result. However, that game still showed a lack of offense power from NY as they were helped by a KC own goal, and registered zero, yes zero, shots on goal. Just to illustrate how bad NY has played in KC, here are the stats for both NY and KC in the two games played since Sporting Park has opened.

Kansas City
New York
38 Attempts on Goal 8
11 Shots on Target 2
17 Shots off Target 3
10 Corner Kicks 6
25 Fouls 33
1 Offsides 3
3 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 1

Not that the Red Bulls have been a great road team over the last few years, but they have been especially bad at Sporting KC. Yes, KC has been one of the best all around teams in the last few years, even winning the 2012 US Open Cup. KC always seems to have NY's number. There are two major things that have changed since last year. First, due to Lance Armstrong's PED Scandal, the Livestrong name has been removed from the stadium, not that it really makes much of a difference; it is just a name after all. The more important change is in the leadership of the Red Bulls from Hans Backe to Mike Petke.

Backe's biggest problem, in my opinion, was that he was too rigid in game, not opting for substitutes, generally, until at least the 80th minute. That never bodes well when playing on the road, and especially in an environment like KC. He also rarely pulled his DPs and other high profile players, expecting them to come through. Thankfully, Petke doesn't have the same mentality as Backe. Petke makes changes when he feels like and will pull whoever he feels is not performing.

I predicted a 1-0 Win on this week's Red Bull Rant. It might be a crazy prediction, especially given this team's road record as of late. If anyone can pull this team together, especially when missing arguably one of, if not, the most important players in Tim Cahill, I think it's Petke.