The Red Bulls had a difficult week but have to get over it in time to take on a hungry Orlando City SC side that just revamped its lineup and is aching for a chance to get back above the red line.
We asked Sean Rollins (not to be confused with the WWE wrestler) to give some insight as to what the Red Bulls can expect as Orlando City comes to visit:
1) What kind of formation and tactics are the Lions using right now, and how should the Red Bulls go about beating them?
Rollins: Under Jason Kreis, the Lions usually line up with a 4-4-2 diamond formation - GK - Bendik; RB - Sutter, CB - Spector, CB - Aja, RB - Toia; DM - Nocerino, RM - Johnson, CM - Kaka, LM - Higuita; ST - Larin, ST - Dwyer
All of these positions have been consistent except Aja at CB. Spector's been fantastic this season but they've struggled finding his partner. It's been between Jose Aja, Tommy Redding, and Leo Pereira but all three have struggled. Aja has started the most games and the last five. Regarding Kaka and Higuita, generally Kaka will start in the middle but often drifts out to the left for more room and switches with Higuita. Playing attack, Higuita struggles a bit because he's a great defensive midfielder but that's the only position Nocerino feels comfortable in.
2) The consensus seems to be that the addition of Dom Dwyer makes Orlando City a serious contender for the playoffs, but they're still just below the red line. What do the Lions need to do to get above it and stay above it come Decision Day?
Rollins: It's been no secret that scoring has been Orlando City's biggest problem this season. They've only given up 33 goals this season which isn't bad (tied for 6th in the East) but they've only scored 24 (second worst in the East). The reason for the price they paid for Dwyer was the fact that they needed a proven MLS goal scorer and they're hoping Dwyer will help solve that problem.
3) Assuming the speculation is true and Kaka and/or Cyle Larin depart at the end of the season, who (besides Dwyer of course) does it look like Orlando City are planning to build around for 2018 and beyond?
Rollins: It's likely that Kaka and Larin will be gone at the end of the year. Larin won't be sold before because the club gets 3/4 of the transfer fee if they wait until the end of the season instead of half now. You know, MLS. Kaka has struggled this season to stay fit and with his play so I don't imagine he'll be back considering his contract is up at the end of the year. Will Johnson is currently vice-captain and will probably take over the captaincy. Kaka leaving will open up a DP spot so if they replace him, that player will probably be depended on quite a bit. They seem quite high on 27-year-old Peruvian DP signing Yoshi Yotun from Malmo who should make his debut Saturday night so he might be one to build around for the future.