The front-loaded nature of the New York Red Bulls' schedule makes their positioning on the MLS table very misleading
The Red Bulls may be sitting at sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings, but in terms of points per game (1.31 ppg) they're 9th with only Montreal (1.18) and DC United (1.00 ppg) trailing them. One of the teams averaging better than RBNY is the New England Revolution (1.33 ppg), trying to work its way back into playoff contention and getting plenty of help from the attacking trio of Juan Agudelo, Lee Nguyen and Kei Kamara.
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls are very thin at defender with Aurelien Collin hurt, Connor Lade and Sal Zizzo struggling, and Michael Murillo retroactively suspended for the game. Though Kemar Lawrence has done an admirable job keeping the left side strong, the right side has been a sieve for goals.
Though it's worth pointing out that the Revs are winless on the road, the Red Bulls have shown a knack for letting teams end winless runs over the past few weeks, so anything is possible.
Here is the RBNY predicted XI vs New England:
GK Luis Robles
DF Kemar Lawrence
DF Aaron Long
DF Damien Perrinelle - Jesse Marsch could surprise us and make Aurelien Collin be available for this game, but probably not as a starter just yet.
DF Sal Zizzo - With Michael Murillo ineligible and Connor Lade two weeks removed from one of the worst performances by a RB in recent memory, Zizzo has as good a chance as anyone to get back in the lineup.
MF Sacha Kljestan
MF Daniel Royer - Alex Muyl has been ineffective lately, so perhaps letting Royer work alongside Mike Grella for the first time this season will give the team a spark.
MF Mike Grella
FW Gonzalo Veron - Fredrik Gulbrandsen just didn't look right against Toronto. And with only a few weeks left for Veron to prove himself before the summer transfer window, Marsch might as well see what his expensive bench-warmer can do.
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips
Predicted Bench: Ryan Meara, Connor Lade, Hassan Ndam, Aurelien Collin, Sean Davis, Alex Muyl, Fredrik Gulbransen
Somebody is going to need to step up in order to keep Lawrence and Luis Robles from doing all the defending themselves. Rumor has it that changes are coming, so for the sake of their very jobs it might suit the team's other defenders to get their act together, and fast.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, this three-game road stretch will - or at the very least should - go down as a disappointment. If not for the players then certainly for the coaching staff and higher-ups as the summer transfer window approaches.
What do you think?