The month of July could hardly have gotten off to a better start for the New York Red Bulls. Back-to-back road wins over the New England Revolution got the team back on track in the MLS playoff chase and sent them into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals to boot.
But now they're back at Red Bull Arena for an MLS showdown with the San Jose Earthquakes, coached by interim head coach and ex-Red Bull Chris Leitch.
Since replacing Dominic Kinnear late last month, the Earthquakes have gone 3-1, most recently knocking the LA Galaxy out of the Open Cup. However, all three of San Jose's wins have come at home, and much like the Red Bulls, points on the road have been very difficult to come by.
In a way, the two teams have a lot in common right now - a veteran striker doing almost all of the scoring work (Chris Wondolowski), ongoing chaos at the top of the food chain, injuries and international duty depriving them of vital players, and engaged in bitter struggle for playoff survival.
Oftentimes this season we've seen the Red Bulls struggle against teams that appear vulnerable, and with six games coming up in the next four weeks - and half of them on the road - it's crucial that the team end their home struggles ASAP.
Here is the RBNY predicted XI vs San Jose:
GK Luis Robles
DF Connor Lade
DF Aaron Long
DF Aurelien Collin - It seems like Jesse Marsch only held Collin out of Thursday's game against New England to avoid having him play on potentially hazardous turf. Guessing he's ready to go for this one, whatever the injury list might say.
DF Sal Zizzo
DM Tyler Adams - With Collin potentially healthy, Adams can go back to patrolling the middle of the field
AM Sean Davis - Yes, he's a defensive midfielder who offers little to nothing as an attacker. But the team has won three straight with him in the lineup - so why give him the boot now?
AM Sacha Kljestan
AM Daniel Royer
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips
*Should the Red Bulls manage to get a win over Miami FC or FC Cincinnati in the Open Cup Semi-Finals, this game will be one of two possible matchups for the Open Cup Final - the other being away vs Sporting Kansas City.
As such, maybe Jesse Marsch has something to gain by playing a less-than-full-strength squad, if only to avoid giving San Jose that chance of having an edge in another potential match-up.
What do you think?