After a flurry of matches in August, the New York Red Bulls finally got a break in their schedule. A much needed week of rest has graced the team at a vital time in the season as the MLS playoffs draw ever closer. Coming off their hiatus, the team travels to FC Dallas in a meaningful matchup.
Over the years, the Red Bulls have been head and shoulders above Dallas, losing just once in the last nine meetings between the clubs. The most recent meeting, a 4-0 trouncing by New York, saw Felipe grab a goal and an assist in a convincing victory at Red Bull Arena. Though they will be meeting at FC Dallas Stadium this time, New York should still fancy their chances.
FC Dallas has seen a considerable dip in form in recent months. The club went undefeated for almost two months before their first loss in May to the San Jose Earthquakes. Their hot start had a lot of fans excited for another fantastic season, but that loss seemed to change something in the team.
Since that game in May, FC Dallas has won just four of their 15 matches. Their most recent win was back in July against the Montreal Impact, but the club then went on to lose four of their next six matches, drawing the other two. It simply has not been good enough for head coach Oscar Pareja and his men.
This game comes at a bad time for the home side as they will be without Kellyn Acosta, Matt Hedges and Maynor Figueroa as all three players are on international duty. They will also seemingly be without midfielder Mauro Diaz who has struggled to stay fit this season. All of these exclusions coupled with the team’s lack of form could spell disaster for FC Dallas.
The Red Bulls have their own exclusions to worry about. Defender Kemar Lawrence has been called up to play a friendly against Canada that is taking place just two hours before this match, so he will obviously be unavailable. Both Fidel Escobar and Michael Murillo were called up to the Panamanian national team as well. With defenders Aurelien Collin and Damien Perrinelle still not fully fit, head coach Jesse Marsch could have an interesting time picking his starting eleven.
All of these defensive roadblocks could open up a lot of opportunities for Michael Barrios and Maximiliano Urruti, FC Dallas’ top assister and goalscorer respectively. The two have a combined 14 goals and 14 assists on the season for Dallas and are big time players for the club. Urruti also leads the team in minutes played and should be the main man that New York should be looking to mark.
Another player to keep an eye on is ex-Swansea player Roland Lamah. The Belgian has had a solid first season with FC Dallas, having scored eight goals on the season so far. His pace could prove troublesome for a makeshift Red Bulls backline that will certainly miss the pace of Lawrence at some point.
Danielle Royer will need to sit out another match as he looks to get back to training soon. This could mean more playing time for youngster Derrick Etienne, who again looked threatening when coming on late against NYCFC. The 20 year old Haitian has had a multitude of strong appearances this season and has contributed two assists in his limited role off the bench. With Tyler Adams likely a starting defender, Etienne could see himself getting a starting position on the wing in this match.
Despite their lack of defenders, the Red Bulls should be heading into this match fully confident of getting all three points. FC Dallas has not been a tough team to beat recently and they are by no means formidable at home. With the spine of the team in Bradley Wright-Phillips, Felipe and Sacha Kljestan all set for this meeting, Marsch should be looking to exploit the shaky Dallas defense and end this game sooner rather than later.