As the Red Bulls draw ever closer to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final for the biggest game the team has played in years, they still need to stay focused on the games they have at hand. This week, that team will be FC Dallas.
This time last year, the Red Bulls and FC Dallas were the respective leaders of the Eastern and Western Conferences, and would both finish record-setting years as top seeds in the play-offs - only for an early exit to send them all home.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the two powerhouse clubs are in a dogfight for any play-off spot they can get their hands on.
Both teams will be without key players due to the international break. Almost the entire Red Bulls backline from last week’s game against New York City are out, while FC Dallas superstars Matt Hedges, Kellyn Acosta and several others will be absent as well.
FC Dallas are hungry for a win, and the Red Bulls have proven more than willing to be the slide-ender for a variety of teams this year. Whoever loses this game might be in some serious trouble down the stretch.
Here is the RBNY predicted XI at FC Dallas:
GK Luis Robles
DF Connor Lade - With Kemar Lawrence on duty with Jamaica, Lade will get slotted into left back.
DF Aaron Long
DF Sal Zizzo - Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar are going to be with Panama, so either Zizzo or Damien Perrinelle gets the nod.
WB Alex Muyl - The multiple defender absences will force Alex Muyl to move back, which may actually be an improvement for the whole team.
WB Tyler Adams
AM Sean Davis
AM Sacha Kljestan
AM Derrick Etienne Jr. - Muyl is probably going to be moved somewhere, which means a starting job for either Etienne, Gonzalo Veron, or Dilly Duka (or maybe even Muhamed Keita). But given his need for minutes, this might be as good a time as any to give Etienne a start.
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips
At this point in the season, this is probably the last game the Red Bulls can afford to lose without suffering severe consequences. Given the poor form of just about every American or French defender on the roster this season, that might very well be the case.
If Jesse Marsch wants to use this game as another tuneup for the reserves, it would be hard to blame him given the brutal stretch of games the team has waiting for them the rest of the month.
In hoping for the best and expecting the worst (as per the usual), one can only trust that Marsch will make the right decisions in preparing the team for the toughest challenges of his tenure.
What do you think?
Who emerges victorious in Match 26?
This poll is closed
The NY/NJ MetroStars
The Dallas Burn
This one’s going to penalty kicks! I can feel it!