A very unconvincing 3-2 win in Gillette Stadium saw the Red Bulls grab a vital three points from the New England Revolution. The late winner, scored by Gonzalo Veron, was great for both the club and the player alike. The upcoming match against the Revs will be a different beast, however, so the Red Bulls will again have to bring their A-game.
Unlike the match on July 5th, the match against the Revs on July 13th will be held at Harvard’s soccer stadium. With a capacity of just over 3500, the atmosphere will be vastly different than the previous matchup and should lean more in favor of the Revs.
Venue aside, the Red Bulls have a tough match ahead of them. Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo are both on Gold Cup duty for their respective nations, so they are out of the question. This means that Sal Zizzo could feature in the backline for a second straight match, something most Red Bulls fans lament to hear.
Coach Jesse Marsch also said that both Aurellien Collin and Damien Perrinelle were omitted from practice but will be available for the match against the Revs. This is a big boost for the club who are already short on defensive help. Defender Aaron Long could get the start over Collin just to preserve the Frenchman’s hamstring for at least half the match.
Regardless of who the starting defenders are, the Red Bulls will need to be much more disciplined at the back. Their first half against the Revs last match was horrid and was only saved thanks to a vicious strike from Bradley Wright-Phillips. Lee Nguyen ran rampant and will need to be controlled from the start to ensure a smooth game for New York.
Man-marking Nguyen like Marsch did in the second half may be the way to go. Felipe had the task of it during that match and will likely be tasked to do the same in the quarter-finals. Tyler Adams is also back from suspension and could feature in a role similar to Felipe, so he is another choice for Marsch to use against Nguyen.
New England does not have much hope of making the playoffs bar a multitude of slip-ups by the teams above them. The US Open Cup could be the only saving grace of their season, so the Red Bulls should be expecting them to come out full force in this match. Saying that a player like Sacha Kljestan will be important is an understatement, and he sadly cannot play much worse than he has been.
There is also a possibility of a formation change to better suit the lack of offense the Red Bulls have seen this season. New England may be a free flowing offensive team, but they are by no means a stellar defensive side. Moving to a three at the back formation could allow the Red Bulls to push further up the pitch and put even more pressure on the backline of the Revs, forcing the struggling Cody Cropper to be more involved in the match.
Unless a miracle transfer is made, it will also be another match with the same group of players that Red Bulls fans are growing all too familiar with. The club has yet to make a summer signing, though it is expected to add players in the current transfer window. There have been few rumors and rumblings surrounding the club and a poor result will only intensify the chatter and need for a fresh new face or two.
Like almost every match in July, the USOC quarter-final match against New England is a must-win for the Red Bulls. Getting a berth in the semi-finals of the Cup will be a big boost for not only the players, but the fan base as well. There is still a feeling of unrest due to lack of results and signings, so a win against the rival Revs will be just the start to the second half of the season that Marsch is hoping for.