The New York Red Bulls could not be happier with their performance after their huge second leg victory over Tijuana. A 3-1 final at Red Bull Arena saw the team advance to the semi-finals on a hard earned 5-1 aggregate score line. With four wins in their last four matches, the Red Bulls are looking more fluent and cohesive as a unit each and every game.
Their next opponent has not started in nearly the same form, as the Red Bulls travel west to take on Real Salt Lake. A week one draw against FC Dallas was nothing to be alarmed about, but their recent 5-1 home loss to Los Angeles FC should have raised some red flags.
Bob Bradley’s side was not very happy to concede their first goal in the clubs history, and swiftly responded to an early Real Salt Lake goal with two of their own. A late second half surge also saw the Salt Lake defense get exposed, as Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela destroyed ran the show. In short, it was a night to forget for Mike Petke and his team.
Joao Plata seems to be the danger man again this season for Real, scoring against both Dallas and Los Angeles. The small but fierce Ecuadorian has always been a threat in the MLS, and it looks like the Red Bulls will need to be wary of his presence throughout the match. Plata has started both matches on the left side in the 4231 formation, playing as a left midfielder/winger.
This means that youngster Kyle Duncan, should he start, will need to shut down Plata whenever possible. Duncan had a great showing in his Red Bulls debut against the Portland Timbers, helping the team earn a clean sheet while recording three interceptions and a tackle. Connor Lade is the usual right back for the team, but Duncan started in his place while Lade was shifted to left back against Portland.
With the Tijuana match taking place just three days earlier, Jesse Marsch will have to again juggle his player selection in order to keep fresh legs on the field. Carlos Rivas could see a second consecutive MLS start for the team after Bradley Wright-Phillips played almost 80 minutes against Tijuana. Daniel Royer should also be fit for the Salt Lake game, as he was subbed out early in the 63rd minute.
Many Red Bulls fans were not happy with Alex Muyl starting against Tijuana, and it is not hard to see why. Muyl was barely a threat going forward and is seemingly only picked for his work rate rather than his end product. With so much talent in the midfield position, it is a bit perplexing as to why he would start over players like Kaku and Marc Rzatkowski.
The good thing about this west coast road trip is the week break the team finally gets. Including the game against Real, the Red Bulls have played six games in just 24 days. The week break will be a welcome sight to a team that has rightfully earned a rest. There is no way Marsch will let his team drop their guard for the match against Real Salt Lake, so expect a fired up team to show up in Utah on Saturday night.