With only one win in their last six games, the New York Red Bulls are starting to slide further down the table. After Saturday's loss to Vancouver, the Red Bulls are now in 7th place, 14 points behind Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United.
The loss to Vancouver was especially frustrating for fans and players alike, as Bradley Wright-Phillips missed a penalty kicks on either side of an early Sacha Kljestan red card (11').
"It's frustrating for sure," said captain Dax McCarty. "There's not much to say except that we seem to be reverting back to the Red Bulls of old in terms of how we lose games."
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Perhaps the only bright spots for the team were Anatole Abang and Manolo Sanchez, who made his MLS debut on Saturday night. Abang did well to earn the second penalty and was rewarded minutes later with a goal. Sanchez nearly leveled things in his first few minutes of action, with a low, driven shot that caught goalkeeper David Ousted on the wrong foot.
This week, the Red Bulls are looking to get back on track against Real Salt Lake. With Kljestan's automatic suspension heaping onto New York's woes, they might receive some sorely needed good news. Lloyd Sam, who missed the match against Vancouver because of a groin injury, is already back in training. While he is still questionable for Wednesday's match, Jesse Marsch is hopeful that he can get something out of the dynamic Englishman.
"Every day, he's felt a little better," said Marsch. "Hopefully tomorrow he's even a little bit better and then we can consider him for Wednesday."
The Red Bulls have been outscored 11-6 by opponents during this streak, so offensive firepower is more than welcome. On the defensive side of things, the return of Ronald Zubar to the starting lineup should help shore up the back line once the former Marseille player gets more minutes under his belt.
Real Salt Lake are having an equally frustrating season so far. Currently in 8th place in the Western Conference, many predicted more from RSL at this point. Real Salt Lake are only one win away from moving up three places, so a road win would do a lot for their standing.
RSL needed a bit of luck to earn a 2-1 win last week. Despite some brilliant individual performances, Jeff Cassar's men still needed a deflection to earn all three points against Sporting Kansas City.
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Jeff Cassar's most dangerous player is Javier Morales. At 35 years old, the midfielder already has five assists despite being limited more in terms of minutes. Always a danger off of set pieces, the veteran playmaker notched two assists- one of which came off of a long curling free kick.
Most concerning for RSL will be the absence of Alvaro Saborio, who is away on international duty. Stepping in for him will most likely be Devon Sandoval, who only has 1 goal in his 14 games played this season.
Who To Watch:
RBNY: Bradley Wright-Phillips. Last week, he was the man to watch because of the absence of Lloyd Sam. This week, it's to see how he rebounds from a dismal performance that saw him miss two penalty kicks. BWP's response will be crucial if the Red Bulls are to get their first win in 4 games.
RSL: Javier Morales. Morales is easily the most skilled player on RSL's roster. Having vision and creativity in abundance, the club legend sets the pace for the offense and will most likely be the source of any goal for RSL.
- Real Salt Lake are winless in their last 3 away matches.
- The Red Bulls have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 4 matches. Coincidence?
- The Red Bulls have yet to score more than 2 goals in a single match this season