After much deliberation and contemplation, it's safe to say that last week, New York Red Bulls' coach Mike Petke largely got it right.....at least with the starting lineup. In getting the team motivated to play a lame duck Chivas USA? Not so much. The first half was ugly. Really really ugly. Luckily, the boys figured out how to turn it on in the second half and applied the type of attacking pressure we've all been waiting for since week one. Having scored a last second equalizer to salvage a point at home, things are looking good for New York...except for, you know, an unfortunate injury or three. Let's take a look to see how a wounded RBNY can stack up to the Montreal Impact.
Here's what we know:
- New York's boys in white are limping.
Or are they? An argument can be made that Tim Cahill (out with a strained hamstring) has not had a great start to the season. While it's always better to have the Australian international on the pitch, his absence provides a forced opportunity for some of the younger players on the squad. The same could be said about the hole left by current starting right back, Richard Eckersley. Another player that has struggled to impress early in the season, most would say that a benched Eckersley is the best kind of Eckersley. Due to a badly sprained ankle, a benched Eckersley is what we'll get this weekend. To make matters more interesting, it's practically a certainty that the team will be without starting forward Thierry Henry AND their only reliable centerback, Jamison Olave. That makes four starters missing from the lineup at kickoff.
- Marco Di Vaio is going to have some fun
With Jamison Olave's knee being kept as far away from the Olympic Stadium's turf as possible, New York will be relying a largely untested pairing at centerback. We will most likely see Armando (the walking yellow card) coupled up with Ibrahim Sekagya. Not exactly the fastest duo in the league, Montreal's Italian poacher has to be licking his chops. Di Vaio has had plenty of chances against New York in the past and hasn't had much trouble converting them either. This Saturday will be no different. UPDATE: Di Vaio has already been flagged offside.
Here's what we don't know:
- Do we really need to be all that worried?
Going into a match missing four starters is never something to be happy about, but do we really need to worry? The Impact aren't exactly a dominating force within the league right now. Justin Mapp has been playing well and Marco Di Vaio, fresh off a three match ban, is starving for more goals, but other than those two, The Impact aren't all that threatening. Even a depleted New York should be able to scrape out some kind of result. It all depends on whether or not they're able to start the match at full throttle.
- So who's going to fill in?
We've talked about who is going to be missing this Saturday but we've yet to talk about who's going to fill in. Actually, scratch that. Jason Iapicco mapped out a bunch of options yesterday. So the question, as it appears to every week, remains: who does Petke go with? Up to this point, it's anybody's guess.
Here's what we think:
The Red Bulls haven't always had the best luck when playing in the big O. The turf is essentially green construction paper laid over concrete, which makes for some anxious matches. The last thing we need is more injuries this early in the season. Still, New York has to be gunning for their first win of the year. Getting it on the road in Montreal is no easy feat but it's not impossible. Everything comes down to the planning that Mike Petke and Robin Frasier put into the match. If the team is confident and motivated, they can take a result. Sadly, we've yet to see them start a game confident and motivated.