MLS action is back as the New York Red Bulls face off against FC Dallas. Jesse Marsch has had a week to prepare his team for this incredibly tough matchup coming off the back of a disappointing Open Cup result against the Philadelphia Union.
A 2-1 loss saw the Red Bulls crash out of the competition way early than expected. Goals from Haris Medunjanin and Cory Burke were enough to see the Union advance to the next round.
Overall, the team created numerous chances throughout the match and should have scored four or five goals. The eventual goal in the 77th minute from the usual suspect Bradley Wright-Phillips was not enough to spark any sort of comeback for the Red Bulls either.
Now, the team needs to quickly shift focus to MLS play as they face arguably their toughest test of the season. The opponent is FC Dallas, and just their record alone should be enough to scare the Red Bulls.
FC Dallas is also coming off an Open Cup loss. Their 3-2 result against Sporting Kansas City was their only loss in the last nine matches they have played.
The form Dallas has been in just during MLS play has been staggering. They are going into Red Bull Arena on a seven match unbeaten streak in the league that has seen the team score 14 goals and allow eight.
Oddly enough, Dallas’ only loss in MLS came against NYCFC at the end of April. A David Villa brace highlighted the shocking 3-1 win for the blue team that was merely a bump in the road for Dallas.
Roland Lamah has been a key contributor to the success of Dallas this season. His team leading six goals on the season has pushed his team into a tie for first in the Western Conference.
The ex-Swansea City winger brings a deadly combination of speed and dribbling ability to the Dallas attack. Connor Lade will be asked to slow down Lamah to the best of his abilities.
FC Dallas has favored a 433 formation in the last few weeks, which means Lamah could be pushed further forward into more of a wingers role. That does not change much for the Red Bulls defensively, as they will still ask Tyler Adams to shift over to offer coverage.
Adams could also be focused more on stopping FC Dallas maestro Mauro Diaz. The Argentine midfielder leads the team with five assists on the season and really makes the team tick offensively.
Man marking Diaz out of the game will only open up more space for USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta, however. Acosta has just one assist on the year but is a great technical player and can really cause problems for the Red Bulls.
The middle of the pitch will be the key area of concern for both teams heading into this match. The 4141 would be a great pick for Marsch heading into this match purely to win over the midfield.
This would allow for Sean Davis, Vincent Bezecourt and Adams to lock down the midfield for the Red Bulls. It would also make for a great outlet for the eventual counter attacks the team launches.
This will be one of the best matches to watch as a neutral. Two top teams will be fighting to climb the table in their respective divisions. The free scoring Red Bulls will need to wear that title proudly in this match if they want to come away with the three points.
On fireworks night at Red Bull Arena, there is sure to be plenty of ignition both during and after the match. Both teams are capable of playing pure and flowing football, so this is lining up to be a fantastic match overall.