The New York Red Bulls were so close to getting to the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. They overpowered Guadalajara and created chance after chance, but were ultimately unable to score a single goal over two legs. Now, the team has to shift their focus back to MLS as they welcome the Montreal Impact to Red Bull Arena.
Montreal is coming into this game with multiple injuries to key players. Their last match was a 4-0 demolition at the hands of the New England Revolution, and the squad showed just how much they missed their star performers. Ignacio Piatti was the main absence from this match, as the creative attacker orchestrates most of Montreal’s offensive movement.
Piatti looks to be fit for this match, though, so he will be a welcome sight to the Impact squad. He is the clear dangerman for the Red Bulls defense to mark during this match, with his movement and vision alone being enough to trouble even the best backline.
Unfortunately for Montreal, they will be missing their new loanee Saphir Taider through red card suspension. The Algerian midfielder has not had the best start to his MLS career, and the early sending off he received against the Revolution ultimately started his teams downfall. The Impact will certainly hope he can straighten out and develop into a key factor this season moving forward.
Montreal favors a back five formation, relying on their counter attacking speed and decision making from Piatti to lead them forward. Even when they line up in a 4141, the deepest midfielder often acts as another defender, effectively keeping the five defender formation. This has not proven to be too much of a trouble for other teams this season, as the Impact have allowed the second most goals in the Eastern Conference this season.
This is a welcoming stat for the Red Bulls, as they have not scored a goal since Aaron Long’s 82nd minute header against Orlando City back on March 31st. The team’s inability to score was something new to this season, as they had netted 18 goals prior to the Guadalajara fixtures.
This should be the perfect game to get that scoring record back on track as Montreal’s defense continues to leak goals. The Red Bulls saw in Orlando that bad defense does not mean bad offense, however, so they need to step up their own defensive efforts to ensure victory. This starts with finding a new filler for the injured Kyle Duncan.
Kristian Dyer recently reported that Jesse Marsch could be looking to use Alex Muyl in that spot. Connor Lade is still an option for Marsch once he returns from injury, but Muyl could be used in situations when the backline is running thin. Lade has also been used as a central defender in the past, so Muyl would occupy the right side in those instances.
Since it has only been four days since their loss to Guadalajara, the Red Bulls will line up yet again with their B-team starting the match. Carlos Rivas, Kaku and Marc Rzatkowski should all start against the Impact as they did not play major minutes midweek. The only real hiccup the second team has had was against Real Salt Lake, so Marsch will hope they continue their strong showing.
With the CONCACAF Champions League sadly behind them, the Red Bulls now only need to focus on MLS competition. They sit tied for sixth with Montreal on six points with 2 games in hand on that blue team from New York. Back to back wins could shoot the team into second place, and it is still very early in the season. As long as the disappointment does not resonate throughout the club, this is a very winnable match for the Red Bulls.