Last season's Supporter's Shield winners are off to a rough start. After getting pounded by Vancouver in a 4-1 road loss to open 2014, the Red Bulls underwhelmed at home last weekend in a 1-1 draw against Colorado. Earlier this week coach Mike Petke cited a lack of creativity and work rate as reasons for the difficult start out of the gate. Even with the 36 year old Thierry Henry and 32 year old Jamison Olave sitting out the opener in Vancouver, presumably due to an aversion to turf fields, New York has not matched the energy of either opponent so far. Vancouver ran them off the pitch in Canada and Colorado pressured them enough to register 18 attempts on goal despite only scoring once on a penalty kick.
The Fire will be somewhat shorthanded so Frank Yallop will have issues of his own to deal with. Mike Magee is back in full training and is expected to be available with indications being that he could be ready to start. Other areas of the pitch will be a concern on Sunday however. Right back Lovel Palmer has been suspended for two games as punishment for swinging his arm at Maximiliano Urruti in Portland last weekend. Palmer received a yellow card on the play but the suspension seems a bit harsh for the infraction. The Fire could also be without left back Gonzalo Segares who has not trained this week after suffering an ankle injury in the Timbers game. Segares played through it to end the match but hasn't been fit to return yet.
Patrick Nyarko isn't available after his two yellow card outing and Alex is listed as questionable with a hip injury so it's looking like Fire supporters will get another look at some of the kids this weekend. Chris Rolfe is available after missing last weekend with a foot injury but he's returned to training. Dilly Duka missed the Portland game and he's still listed as questionable for this match. Benji Joya and Harry Shipp could see the big stage for a second consecutive outing.
The regular referees are back and the Fire have drawn Drew Fischer to officiate this match.
Fire - QUESTIONABLE: Alex (hip flexor tightness), Dilly Duka (R gluteal pain), Gonzalo Segares (ankle sprain), Steven Kinney (hamstring tightness)
Red Bulls - OUT: Ian Christianson (foot injury)
Possible line ups
Fire - Johnson; Cochrane, Soumare, Hurtado, Ianni; Larentowicz, Watson, Joya, Shipp; Magee, Amarikwa
Key subs - Alex, Anangono, Rolfe, Franco
Red Bulls - Robles; Miller, Sekagya, Olave, Eckersley; Convey, McCarty, Cahill, Sam; Wright-Phillips, Henry
Key subs - Luyindula, Alexander, Steele
NYRB centerback Armando, who has started both games was also handed a suspension by the MLS Disciplinary Committee and will miss this one. New York started Bobby Convey at left back in their opener but he moved into midfield against Colorado and was replaced in the back by Roy Miller. The Red Bulls midfield has been generally ineffective so far with only Lloyd Sam performing at a high level. Tim Cahill hasn't found a groove yet and Dax McCarty has looked a step slow.
The Fire's youth movement got off to a good start in Portland and with both Nyarko and Duka seemingly out of action it's likely Yallop won't change too much and give Benji Joya and Harry Shipp another chance to start outside even though it's not a natural position for either one.
Greg Cochrane will probably start in place of Segares so it's seems likely that Yallop will opt for a more veteran presence on the right. Patrick Ianni filled in for Palmer late in the Portland match and will be a safer choice against Thierry Henry and company.
New York overall has looked a step slow to start the season and it could have something to do with an older squad not being quite prepared for early season challenges. The Fire's revamped line up brought a level of energy that set the Timbers back early and the Red Bulls will need to match it to start the game. Petke questioned the work rate of the team on Monday and this will be a test for his veteran squad. Getting results on the road is never easy in MLS and New York has never won in Toyota Park.
Fire 2 Red Bulls 1
The rest of the league
I went 3-5 last week but that's an improvement. (4-12 to start the season is umm...not good)
I'll try again anyway.
New England 1 Vancouver 1
Real Salt Lake 2 Los Angeles 1
Montreal 1 Seattle 2
Toronto FC 3 DC United 1
Columbus 1 Philadelphia 1
Colorado 1 Portland 2
Sporting KC 0 San Jose 0
FC Dallas 1 Chivas USA 0