The bad news is that this past week the New York Red Bulls sold beloved midfielder Lloyd Sam after four incredible years with the club - to DC United no less. The good news is that the team has sufficient depth at the attacking midfielder position that, talent-wise, the team should be able to get by. Whether the team remains emotionally fit after losing a friend and locker room leader is a different story though.
Nonetheless, there is still a game to play and winning has the uncanny ability to make players and fans feel much better. But that will prove a difficult task against a Portland Timbers team that are significantly better than their standing in the Western Conference indicates.
The Timbers are still waiting for their first road win while the Red Bulls are riding a five-game winning streak at Red Bulls Arena. Unfortunately, three of the defenders who have been a huge part of that winning streak - Kemar Lawrence Chris Duvall and Aurelien Collin - won't be able to play as Lawrence is still injured while Duvall and Collin are suspended.
More than perhaps any other game the Red Bulls have played this season, this game will test the defensive depth of the team as Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi are two of MLS's most talented players.
Here is the Red Bulls predicted XI vs Portland Timbers:
GK Luis Robles
DF Justin Bilyeu - After Connor Lade struggled against NYC FC, Marsch may be inclined to bring in a fresh defender who can contribute more in an attacking role.
DF Gideon Baah - Taking over for the suspended Chris Duvall, Baah has a chance to regain form after weeks of disappointing play.
DF Damien Perrinelle - The loss of Aurelien Collin to a match ban may prove devastating, but at least DP seems ready after several months on the sidelines with an injury
DF Sal Zizzo
MF Dax McCarty
MF Mike Grella
MF Sacha Kljestan
MF Gonzalo Veron - Jesse Marsch called out Veron mere hours after trading Lloyd Sam, so we'll be seeing a lot more of him now.
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips
There is certainly a case to be made for putting Lade in over Bilyeu or giving another one of the CBs a start over Baah and Perrinelle, but for now it pays to expect as much firepower as possible.
What do you think?