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Preview: The Red Bulls look to shake off their cobwebs against Sporting KC

A heartbreaking week has led the Red Bulls into their next match against a tough Western opponent

MLS: New York Red Bulls at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

This was one of the roughest weeks to be a New York Red Bulls fan since the Champions League disappointment back in April.

A myriad of problems have sprouted up, beginning with Marsch’s departure from the club and recently continuing with even stronger rumors of Tyler Adams leaving as well. Injuries and a derby loss to the smurfs really knocked the team and fanbase down a peg.

Prior to their first loss in MLS since June 2nd, the Red Bulls found out they would be without Florian Valot for the rest of the season. Coupled with Kyle Duncan’s injury, the team is now down two players with the same injury.

The impending loss of Tyler Adams seems even more catastrophic now as the usually beefed up Red Bulls reserves are running thin.

Depth at right fullback is also being tested as Michael Murillo has recently stated that he wants to take his talents to Europe. This understandable move will see the Red Bulls have just Connor Lade and Ethan Kutler to fill the spot, the latter being an inexperienced MLS player.

Sporting KC has been through plenty of injury problems of their own this season, and they do not seem to be getting any better.

Cristian Lobato and Jimmy Medranda have both been ruled out for the match at Red Bull Arena as the two have knee injuries. Recent surgery to Khiry Shelton’s knee will also see him sidelined until at least late September.

The injuries finally seem to be impacting this resilient team as of late. Sporting has had a big dip in form, seeing them secure just one point in the last three matches.

They have also slipped down the table to third place in the West. While they are just two points behind conference leaders FC Dallas, the team knows they need to correct their form quickly to stay in contention.

The main problem the past few matches has been the Sporting defense. Eight goals allowed in just three matches will make it tough for any team to get results, regardless of their explosive offense.

Ike Opara has not been his usual commanding self and Graham Zusi is being exposed for the out of position midfielder that he is. A full weeks rest after three matches in eight days could be just what this defense needed after the onslaught they received.

The Red Bulls will not be looking to give them any sort of break offensively. The team failed to score for the first time since May 26th, so they will be hungry to get back on the scoresheet in any way possible.

This will likely come in the form of an early goal. This has been a staple of the Red Bulls offense this season and has contributed to many strong performances.

Nine of the last 13 MLS matches have seen the Red Bulls score a first half goal, with six of the nine matches seeing a goal before the 10th minute.

The quick fire start has been a staple of the Jesse Marsch offense and is something that will hopefully be carried over while Chris Armas is in charge.

One unfortunate thing that seems to have carried over is the hesitation to use substitutes in a match. Armas made just one substitute in the loss against NYCFC, waiting until the 88th minute to bring on Derrick Etienne.

This is something that desperately needs to be changed in the Red Bulls team. For a club that is so proud of their development, it seems almost ironic that they are afraid to sub in their bench players.

It was Armas’ first match in charge, so he could have wanted to stick to his tactics for his debut so as to not complicate things too much.

If things are not going the Red Bulls’ way against Sporting KC, though, Armas cannot be afraid to go to his bench. Rzatkowski and Murillo, along with Etienne, are all capable of impacting the game in a positive sense.

The same applies if the team is playing well and protecting a lead, with Aurelien Collin, Fidel Escobar and Kutler on the bench.

It may take a few matches for Armas to get the hang of his new position. Throwing him straight into the Hudson River Derby was quite a move by the club, so he does get a slight pass for the negative result.

This match against Sporting will be another tough test, though. Armas will need to bring his A-game to beat an offensive furry that is capable of running a team off the pitch. Red Bull Arena will be intently watching his every move, so perfection will be expected against Peter Vermes and his Sporting KC side.