The Fire seem to own New York at Toyota Park and their dominance continued in the last meeting. They'll be hard pressed to repeat that performance on the road and Martin Tomszak is back to take another look at the Red Bulls.
What Are They All About? New York Red Bulls Preview
Is it over yet? Not mathematically! This past weekend the Chicago Fire managed to score three road goals and still lose a match after Montreal buried four of their own. The fact that three of those goals came from Chicago’s summer transfer target Didier Drogba didn’t make the situation easier. Alas, there are still seven more matches to be played and if Frank Yallop says there’s a chance then there’s gotta be a chance, right? The turnaround needs to start on Friday as the Fire travel to New Jersey to take on the New York Red Bulls in what they hope will be their first road win of the season. New York will have other plans and will gladly point out that Red Bull arena has been a fortress this season with the team having won its last five consecutive home matches and having lost just twice at home all year. Will Chicago pulls themselves out of the cellar, or will they drop like a sack of potatoes?
NYRB Form Guide (Last Five League Matches): W-L-W-W-D
Previous match: A 3-0 win at home against D.C United.
Formation: 4-2-3-1: Robles; Lade, Miazga, Perrinelle, Lawrence; McCarty, Felipe; Sam, Kljestan, Grella; Bradley Wright Phillips
Strengths: If this preview seems eerily familiar, that’s because these two sides met just two and a half weeks ago. Not much has changed since then for either team. Despite Chicago managing to pull off a win in their first encounter, New York is still flying high and the Fire are still inventing new ways to collapse.
The strengths section of the last preview highlighted New York’s disciplined mentality under Jesse Marsch, their ability to hurt opponents through build up play as well as attacking on the counter, their organization at the back, their statistical domination of matches in the categories of possession, shots taken, passing completion percentages, a strong presence in the final third and an unbeaten streak of five matches. Since then the Red Bulls have played two matches, the anomaly against Chicago (we’ll get to that below) and the thrashing of Eastern Conference leaders D.C United. Let’s take a look at that match.
D.C. Divided: Going into the encounter with D.C the Red Bulls knew that a win would put them within three points of the conference leaders with two matches still in hand. It was an opportunity to make a statement and they most certainly did. They controlled possession with 57% of the ball and when D.C did get on it they were often held within their half. New York also continued their tendency of peppering the goals with shots by making twenty four attempts, eight of which were on target. What’s worse is that after securing a two goal lead New York seemed to throw their attacking clutch into a higher gear and go for D.C’s throat when they were down, ultimately winning 3-0 in convincing fashion.
Pretty, Oh So Pretty: With the Chicago backline in a constant state of flux, the coaching staff will need to be weary of communication problems with the likes of Mike Grella, Lloyd Sam, and Bradley Wright Philips looking to make runs in behind to latch onto through balls from Sacha Kljestan. Early on in the D.C. match the Red Bulls set the tone with just such a through ball from Kljestan to Grella which almost ended up in the net. This strategy continued throughout the match and was responsible for two of the three goals. The precise movement and impeccable timing of this New York side could haunt Chicago if they aren’t careful. The Red Bulls are playing with confidence and it has led to a style of soccer that is downright beautiful to watch. The link up play, the understanding among players and the overall team chemistry exhibited by New York should worry the Fire.
Perhaps the scariest part of the D.C match wasn’t the fact that they played so fluidly but the impressive sign was the grit and determination that was visible in every member of the squad from front to back. Luis Robles’ commanding of the box, Matt Miazga and Damien Perrinelle’s sheer will power to beat their man to the ball, Dax McCarty’s resolve to win back every ball he lost in midfield, Felipe and Kljestan’s constant striving for the perfect pass, Sam and Grella’s motivation to run faster down the wings, and Bradley Wright Phillips accepting nothing less than getting his toe to the ball before his defender did was inspiring to watch. They may have lost against the Fire in the first meeting, but they picked their heads up and rose to the occasion against D.C.
Superb team play and clinical individual finishing will build confidence for sure, and with that being D.C’s third loss in as many league matches New York surely smells blood in the water. They will want to grasp at the chance to be top of the East on Friday night and very little indicates that Chicago will be able to stop them… But that’s what we said last time and looked what happened there.
Weaknesses: In the last preview we discussed New York’s match against Montreal to highlight the weaknesses section. In our eyes that match exemplified the perfect strategy against New York, Le Impact plugged up the midfield and played a fully concentrated 90 minutes at the back to earn them a draw against the Red Bulls. Well, the Fire went one better and attempted to go blow for blow with New York and it earned them all three points at Toyota Park. The key to the victory lay in Chicago’s quickness in transition alongside Ronald Zubar and Miazga’s miscommunication and getting caught on the back foot. Look for a similar line up and strategy from the Fire on Friday.
Part of the issue was also the Red Bulls taking Chicago for granted, a mistake which they cannot make again. If the Fire play as fearlessly as they did last time out, it might very well earn them their first road win of the season.
Injuries and Suspensions: All quiet on this front for New York, the Red Bulls will be at full strength on Friday.
That’s all we’ve got, sorry. There isn’t much to indicate any other weaknesses in this New York squad. Sure, they lost to the Fire a few weeks ago but everyone has a bad day at the office every once in a while and New York got theirs out of the way against a team that isn’t near them in the standings.
Prediction: With the sixth, and quite possibly the fifth playoff spots still up for grabs the Eastern Conference is an interesting place indeed. The Fire will need at least five wins in their last seven matches to get there but Friday’s match will not be one of them. The matches played between these two sides in New York have tended to be high scoring affairs, New York 4-4 Chicago. Igboananike, Gilberto, Accam, and Palmer are your goal scorers for the Men in Red, Bradley Wright Phillips with all four of New York’s goals.