A long and welcomed break is finally over as the New York Red Bulls return to action against a DC United side that has drastically turned their season around.
After starting the season in deplorable fashion, DC United has been reborn. They are now just five points out of a playoff spot as things continue on their upward trend.
The most obvious spark to the team has come in the form of England international Wayne Rooney. His presence alone has revived both the DC fanbase and the team.
His sparkling display against Atlanta United grabbed headlines around the footballing community. Rooney converted a penalty and grabbed two assists, including a great hustle play in the dying embers of the game.
Rooney was not exactly met with open arms when he was first signed, but MLS fans across the country are finally warming up to the energetic Evertonian.
The three match unbeaten streak that DC is on has seen them climb even closer to that coveted playoff spot. A well earned point at Yankee Stadium was followed up by a 2-1 win against Minnesota United at Audi Field.
Audi Field has been quite a fortress since it opened apart from a recent slip up against the Philadelphia Union. In fact, the only other loss at Audi Field came against the Red Bulls in July after an early Bradley Wright-Phillips goals.
Any sort of goal would be a welcomed sight for Red Bulls supporters. An atrocious 3-0 defeat in Canada to the Montreal Impact was a rude awakening for the team.
The Red Bulls last defeat before the Impact defeat came against the Columbus Crew back in July, so the loss was quite foreign to the team. The manner of the defeat, however, was the problem.
The squad looked absolutely knackered for most of the match. This was mainly due to the flurry of matches the team had to go through in August.
The absence of Tyler Adams was the glaring fault of the team selection for Chris Armas. Adams really does bring the most unique and electrifying amount of energy to the team that cannot be replicated.
The Red Bulls style of play demands a player like Adams to really thrive. Naby Keita filled that role for RB Leipzig in Germany until his departure this summer.
Sean Davis does not need to play this type of role when Adams is in the side, but his absence seems to cause a bit of confusion. Davis and Marc Rzatkowski paired up against the Impact, but the midfield seemed lost.
Davis is still a blossoming midfielder that plays his best football next to Adams, but the only problem is the inevitable departure of Adams after the season. A big change could be coming to the Red Bulls midfielder next season, but for now, Armas has the gift of Adams’ skill.
The lineup the Red Bulls put out last meeting against DC was nearly perfect. The one change that should be obvious would be the omission of Derrick Etienne from the starting lineup.
Etienne is having a rough go of things this season. He started so brightly after scoring goals against Orlando City and NYCFC. Since then, though, Etienne has been ineffective, both off the bench and in the starting eleven.
Daniel Royer will likely replace him from the start, with most of the team remaining the same. This should ensure another victory over DC despite their recent form.
With Atlanta United back to their winning ways, the Red Bulls need to get all three points at Audi Field to keep pace. The match is set up to be the best of the three meetings this season, so Armas will need to bring his best tactics to the forefront for this one.