The New York Red Bulls haven't played a home game in MLS since losing to the Philadelphia Union on May 24th. Since then, it has been further downhill for the men in red and white: the Philly game was the first of three losses in a row; the team has scored just three goals in that time. Other than a great 90 minutes played in the U.S. Open Cup against the (poor, overwhelmed) Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL), New York hasn't shown its best on the pitch since the 2-1 win over NYCFC in early May. This leaves many questioning the club, putting more and more pressure each game New York goes without a positive result.
New York fans were delighted to see a strong lineup for the Bulls on Tuesday against Atlanta, and it seems the 2-0 victory served as a short getaway from the current dilemma at hand for both squad and supporters. Now it is time for New York to kick on by getting back to basics. So with that said, here is Once a Metro's Lineup Prediction for tonight's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Notice a few familiar faces? To start, Matt Miazga is back from the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, where he played a phenomenal tournament. Ronald Zubar is also a major possibility for tonight. Jesse Marsch hasn't said much about Zubar since we saw him score against Atlanta on Tuesday in a fairytale return for the Bulls. Since making his first appearance for New York against Sporting KC opening weekend, Zubar has been out due to persistent injury, so his return on Tuesday to the Starting XI is very significant. Was his start in the U.S. Open Cup a hint at tonight's lineup, or was it simply a test to see if he's ready to play a full 90 minutes again? You tell me.
A close friend of mine attended the USOC game this week, and described Zubar's celebration after scoring on his return to first team action: "He ran to Marsch, hugged him, high-fived everyone on the bench, celebrated with Perrinelle, chest bumped Lade, and then topped it off with a shoe shine from Felipe." I don't know about you, but I think he's ready to play. No surprise if he gets the start against Vancouver, but I'm still favoring Miazga as the player who has had more time to gel with the rest of the back line to far this season.
Damien Perrinelle also returns for his starting position at CB alongside the 19 year-old in my opinion, after a solid U.S. Open Cup appearance. Perrinelle is back from his suspension for yellow card accumulation and it appears he is ready to play for a full 90 once again tonight. With that said, Karl Ouimette has done a wonderful job stepping in recently, so it's not as if New York has no one to turn to if Perrinelle needs a rest.
Next to Damien we once again see Roy Miller, whose knee sprain has kept him in and out of the starting lineup. Thankfully, players such as Kemar Lawrence and Anthony Wallace have done well filling in for the Red Bull veteran. Indeed, Lawrence is arguably first-choice now, but he is in Chile playing Copa America at the moment. With Matt Miazga and Damien Perrinelle back, Ronald Zubar getting healthy, and Karl Ouimette as an option as well as Connor Lade, Roy Miller can finally sit comfortably at left back once again, instead of filling at center back as he has been doing of late.
Besides those three changes (Miazga and Perrinelle back; Miller sliding over to the left back spot), I believe New York comes out with a very familiar attack - and, of course, Chris Duvall at RB.
Lloyd Sam limped out of Tuesday's match, and the club has suggested he will be a game-time decision. I think he'll make the lineup, but in the event Jesse Marsch and company decide to leave him out of the Starting XI, Dane Richards may be the man to suit up. Though I do have another theory: if Lloyd Sam is not in tonight's starting lineup, will RBNY pull the trigger on the teased Anatole Abang - Bradley Wright-Phillips formation? Unlikely. But with New York in a major slump right now, don't count anything out.
You can watch tonight's match between the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps tonight at 7:00 PM on MSG, TSN2 (for you Canadian viewers), and of course: MLS LIVE.