The New York Red Bulls put their four match winning streak on the line as the club heads to Minneapolis to take on an out of form Minnesota United team. This will be the first ever meeting between the two clubs, as Minnesota has just been introduced to the MLS at the beginning of the 2017 season.
It is hard to ignore the fact that the Red Bulls are coming off of their best offensive form of the season, scoring nine goals in their last three matches. Coupled with the fact that Minnesota has the worst defense in MLS, allowing 42 goals so far this season, fans could see another goal-scoring show from New York.
If the Sacha Kljestan that has showed up the past two matches rears his beautiful, match-defining face in Minneapolis, the Red Bulls could be in business early. Kljestan scored once and assisted two other goals in the 5-1 rout of the San Jose Earthquakes midweek. He looked like his old self again and was a joy to watch. The freedom Kljestan played with allowed him and his teammates to dictate the midfield and the overall tone of the match.
Another big performer from the win over the Quakes was Daniel Royer, who grabbed a brace in the dying embers of the match. Royer was a threat from the first minute to the last, always getting in behind defenders or making himself available for a pass. The ball the youngster Derek Etienne played to him for his first goal was simply remarkable and was more of an exclamation mark on the result. Nonetheless, Royer was a key performer during the match and could see a substitute appearance as he played the full 90 minutes.
On the topic of changes, it should be noted that coach Jesse Marsch said post match there is a possibility that Gonzalo Veron could be a starter in the match against Minnesota United. This would be a big boost for a player who again came on as a substitute and impacted the game in a big way.
Following the substitution that saw Bradley Wright-Phillips come off the pitch, the Red Bulls scored four goals, with Veron assisting one of them. His pace and persistence made him a big problem for the San Jose defense and again proved his worth to the club this year.
Starting Veron could mean playing next to, or even behind, Wright-Phillips in attack. This would give the Red Bulls a lot of options going forward, able to play in Veron or use Wright-Phillips as a hold up player and allow others to run off him. Either way, New York should be set up nicely for a strong attacking line up.
For Minnesota, there is a bit of hope going into this match. The team has only lost one of their last five home matches, keeping two clean sheets during that time. Star striker Christian Ramirez is always a threat to score and leads the team with 10 goals on the season. The back three of New York will need to keep tabs on him throughout the match, tracking his runs in and around the box.
Kevin Molino could also prove a problem for the Red Bulls. He has five goals and five assists on the season and runs the middle of the park for Minnesota. With Felipe often playing the deeper role in the midfield, it will be his job to keep an eye on Molino throughout the match with help from Tyler Adams. Cutting off Molino’s supply to the other attackers will make Luis Robles’ life much easier in net and take a lot of pressure off the defense.
A win for New York will mean a very well timed five match winning streak. It will also keep them in fifth place in a very tight Eastern Conference table. There are still plenty of matches left, but sitting in a playoff spot is always a nice feeling for both the club and the fans. The new 3-6-1 formation seems to be just what the Red Bulls squad ordered, and should see New York past Minnesota at the weekend.