After falling to the Seattle Sounders 3-1 on the road last week the Red Bulls will look to steady the ship this week at home against a Real Salt Lake entering a period of transition.
RSL fired head coach Jeff Cassar only three games into the season as the Western Conference team started the season with two losses and a tie. Daryl Shore took over the team from Cassar on an interim basis.
Salt Lake will also be without many of their key figures this week including Nick Rimando (United States) and Albert Rusnak (Slovakia) who will be away on international duty, and the squad has a slew of injury concerns including Joao Plata (hip contusion), Jordan Allen (right quad strain), Aaron Maund (hamstring injury) and Justen Glad (knee injury).
To further add to Real Salt Lake’s struggles the Red Bulls have not lost in their last 15 home games going 13-0-2 during that run and outscoring opponents 33-10.
New York will also be missing so key figures to international duty in Sacha Kljestan(United States) and Michael Murillo (Panama).
Historically, the team playing at home wins in this series. RBNY enjoys a 5-1-3 all-time record at home against RSL, but the last game these teams played was in Salt Lake and RSL won, 2-1. On that day, Gideon Baah opened the scoring for New York. In the second half Yura Movsisyan tied it before Jordan Allen scored the game winner in the 88’.
For those concerned about attendance, our friends at TicketIQ.com reported a mid-week total of 4,000 tickets to the match available on the resale market, suggesting demand is not overwhelming.
Players to watch:
RBNY- Mike Grella or Derrick Etienne Jr. I believe that one of these two will start in the more advanced midfield role in place of Sacha Kljestan. I am interested to see how the Red Bulls fare with two natural wide players playing the system as opposed to Kljestan who will always be more inclined to the middle of the pitch in the 4-2-2-2 system.
RSL- Luis Silva: RSL’s main issue this season has been getting their offense going. According to mlssoccer.com, "Real Salt Lake are averaging 2.3 shots on target per game, the third-lowest total in the league so far in 2017." RSL will be without both Plata and Rusnak who are the two most creative players on the team, so Silva must step up to try and feed Movsisyan for the team to have any chance this weekend.