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What We Know and What We Don't: Houston Dynamo Edition

In which we examine the first of two upcoming away matches in Houston, Texas.

USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls ended a run of poor form last week when they beat D.C. United 2-1.   While the win might not have been as dominant over the last place team in Major League Soccer as it should have been, it was enough to end New York's three game winless streak, and possibly boost the team's confidence heading into a difficult match on the road against the Houston Dynamo.

Here's what we know:

  • Houston enjoys playing at home.

BBVA Compass Stadium isn't quite the fortress it was last season, but it's still a damn difficult place for the visiting side to win.   The Dynamo hold a respectable 7-2-4 record at home, while the Red Bulls have been slightly terrible(if this horse isn't dead yet, it will be soon) on the road.  This Sunday's match will be played during the hottest part of the day in a city where 85 degrees is deemed "sweater weather,"   so don't expect New York to come out guns blazing.   They're going to need to play with pace and grit if they want to get out of Houston with a result.

  • The "new look" Red Bulls look pretty good.

Red Bull supporters have been clamoring for Lloyd Sam to get a start since the beginning of the current season.  Last week, coach Mike Petke finally listened and gave the English winger his first start at Red Bull Arena since joining the team.  That decision, along with the decisions to bench Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola, start Bradley Wright-Phillips, and move Tim Cahill into his given position as a withdrawn forward, paid off in spades.   New York looked like a team with a second wind.    Considering Houston is just coming off of a midweek loss to the Columbus Crew, they'll be playing on tired legs.  The new and refreshed Red Bull lineup should go a long way in giving the Dynamo fits this Sunday.

Here's what we don't know:

  • Who's hurt?  Who's healthy? Who's going to be benched? Who's going to start?

Anyone who has followed this team for a considerable amount of time knows that, just because something worked the week before, it won't necessarily work right now.   Tim Cahill is out with some torn ligaments in his ankle after falling victim to yet another horror tackle that went unnoticed by, what have to be, the greatest refs in the world.  That means we can reasonably assume that Thierry Henry will reclaim his starting position and the captains band, though Petke isn't making any promises.   Cahill's absence also means we'll most likely see Eric Alexander in the center midfield again which will all but guarantee Lloyd Sam's place on the right wing.   Injuries and stupid decisions have made New York's back line a real cause for concern.  With Roy Miller out, left back duties will once again fall on the shoulders of an out of form David Carney.  We can only hope he learned his lesson after Nick Deleon juked him out of his shoes last week.   Thankfully, Jamison Olave is healthy enough to play and will reclaim his spot in the back line.   Pretty good news considering Ibrahim Sekagya's suspension after his second idiotic penalty in the box in as many weeks.

Here's what we think:

  • I have no idea what I think anymore....

This team is schizophrenic.   They look like world beaters against teams like Montreal, Salt Lake and Kansas City and then turn around and look like the worst team in the league against Chivas USA.   They put on a counter attacking clinic and then look listless and bored the following week.   They're getting into fisticuffs with their coach during training, and then hugging it out the following weekend.  What the hell is going on with the New York Red Bulls?    I don't ever like to call a game must win, and this Sunday's match is no exception....but it's pretty close to it.   New York needs to make a statement that can't be made with a draw.   If they want the league to take them seriously, they need to come out of BBVA  with the full three points.