The New York Red Bulls march on in their never ending month of August. The team has played five matches this month, winning three and drawing two.
A 1-0 victory against DC United last time out was not the most emphatic result, but the three points was vital in the race to the top of the table.
The Red Bulls had a handful of chances throughout the match, giving up their fair share of opportunities as well. Neither team could capitalize on the clear cut chances they received, and it took a bullet of a strike from Kaku in the second half for the Red Bulls to pull ahead.
Daniel Royer specifically had a few chances that he really squandered. After scoring or assisting in six of his last seven matches, Royer simply was not at his peak against DC. Chris Armas subbed him out after 71 minutes of action, which could be a sign that gets the start against the Houston Dynamo next match.
Derrick Etienne also had a few chances of his own, but his poor ball control let him down at the vital moments. He was subbed out alongside Royer, but his disappointing performance left much to be desired.
Even Bradley Wright-Phillips struggled to find the back of the net. He had one golden chance near the end of the match that resulted in a scuffed shot going wide of an open net. His 90 minutes performance signals that Armas could be looking to rest BWP until the team travels to Canada to take on the Montreal Impact.
The flurry of games and lack of substitutions against DC suggest that Armas could be making a whole host of changes against the Dynamo. Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo all went the full 90 minutes again, so all three could see a rest in the midweek match.
New acquisition Andreas Ivan has been slowly integrating himself into the squad, which is great news for the team’s depth. Ivan has been subbed on in the last four matches for the Red Bulls, seeing 62 minutes of action so far. He has shown glimpses of promise during his time on the field, so it is only a matter of time until Armas gives him a full run out.
Switching focus to the opposition, the Houston Dynamo have really fallen off as of late. The team that so promisingly climbed the table in June has won just one MLS match since July.
Houston is really banking on their success in the Open Cup after beating LAFC in penalties in the semi finals. A date with the Philadelphia Union is set for September 25th, so the team will need to switch its focus back to MLS play until then.
The Dynamo have lost five of their last seven matches, drawing the other two. Both draws were with FC Dallas, ending in a 1-1 result at BBVA Compass Stadium. Their record has not been phenomenal at home, but it has been much better than their putrid away record.
Houston has just one win the whole year away from home. They have the fourth worst away record in all of MLS, so traveling to Red Bull Arena for a midweek make up match is not the most ideal situation for the team.
Oddly enough, for all their poor form this season, the Dynamo are the only team below the playoff line in either conference with a positive goal differential. The numerous defeats have been kept to civilized results as a one goal loss has been quite common for the team.
This is a bit worrying for a Red Bulls team that can be a bit complacent at times after scoring a goal or controlling possession for too long. The team was lucky to escape with all three points against DC, but that is not a way to thrive in this league.
If the match against DC seemed like a trap game, then this match against Houston is just as nervy. A few fresh faces on the field could be just what the Red Bulls need to spruce up their finishing abilities, so as long as the defense stays rock solid, a victory against the Dynamo should be forth coming.