A frustrating draw against the Philadelphia Union last week felt worse than it was for the New York Red Bulls. The team was clearly not at their best offensively, but there were some positives to take away from the match. The main point was the strength of the defense.
Keeping the Union off the scoresheet was a much bigger victory than the team has been given credit for. Philly’s offense had been clicking the two matches before they faced the Red Bulls, and with the Union winning 3-1 over the Chicago Fire just four days later, shutting them out was even more impressive.
The defense for the Red Bulls has been incredible all season. Two players in particular, Tim Parker and Tyler Adams, both have held the line well. The two rightly earned a call up to the national team and will unfortunately not be with the Red Bulls during this match. Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar will also be out due to national team duty, leaving just a few players to fill the backline.
Connor Lade will start in place of Murillo at right back while Aurelien Collin will see the field for the first time since April. The two are still very strong options for Jesse Marsch and should not cause too many issues due to their experience.
The loss of Derrick Etienne to the Haitian national team could mean more minutes for Carlos Rivas against the Revolution. The Columbian has been primarily with Red Bulls II for the season after a fair amount of minutes to start the year. Bringing him on for Royer seems to be a move Marsch prefers, as he likes Rivas to run in behind the defense on the wings.
The number of missing players will only make the job against New England that much harder. Since the start of the season, though, the Red Bulls have showed they can survive and even thrive with a limited roster. The team will have their hands full with the New England attack, with multiple players being key in their offense.
The Revolution are no strangers to goals. They are tied for the fourth most goals in the Eastern Conference and have added a fantastic player to their roster this season. Ecuadorian forward Cristian Penilla has been lighting it up for New England, spearheading the team’s offensive success.
Penilla and forward Teal Bunbury have combined for 12 goals and five assists on the season. Though Penilla is at the club on loan from Pachuca, he has been the team’s most important player. Combined with Bunbury having the best start to a season in his career, New England is just as dangerous as any team going forward.
The recent form of New England, especially at home, is good new for the Red Bulls. A loss and a draw in their last two home matches show that the club is not invincible at home. The two results did come against Atlanta and Columbus, though, who are the top two teams in all of MLS. Regardless, the Red Bulls should be confident going in to this matchup.
Starting strong has been a staple of the Red Bulls this season and this match in Gillette Stadium should be no different. The early chances against the Union show that Marsch values early chances, so a high offensive press will continue to be used by the Red Bulls.
New England will unfortunately be without veteran defender Chris Tierney for the remainder of the season, leaving Gabriel Somi to occupy the left back role. This should be an area of concentration for the Red Bulls and the offense. Florian Valot has been solid on the right side this season at exposing teams, so this will again be his time to shine.
The Red Bulls have a very busy schedule in the next few weeks. Four matches in 11 days will really test this team’s character and endurance, This could be the start of a strong summer for a team that has already blossomed so brightly. New England has not been much of a problem for the Red Bulls in the past few seasons, so the team should be going into this match with heads held high.