Friday, April 14, 2006

Must-Have Points

After two straight draws against MLS Cup contenders, the Red Bulls have no excuses heading into tomorrow’s visit to the Wasatch mountains against Real Salt Lake (9pm, DK, MSG). Last season, the MetroStars underachieved big-time against the two MLS expansion clubs, drawing RSL twice and going 1-0-1 vs. Chivas USA. While the HDC co-tenants had a big upgrade in the off-season, RSL continues to be a work in progress. The stormin’ mormons dropped malcontent Clint Mathis and picked up part-time national-teamer Chris Klein, but the team hasn’t won since a 2-1 home victory vs. Chivas on August 6th (0-13-1 since). Tomorrow night’s the home opener at Rice-Eccles, though, and the artificial turf there may play havoc (Hat tip: Ty Keough) on Youri’s knees. Here’s a side-by-side breakdown, based on last week’s starting lineups…

The RSL frontline vs. the Red Bulls’ defense:
Jeff Cunningham and Andy Willams vs. Marvell Wynne, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke, and Taylor Graham (and Tony Meola). Cunningham and Williams are proven but aging strikers, and the fast turf will benefit Cunningham’s game. The NY defense had a terrific outing last week against a tougher side (New England). If the Red Bulls can avoid slipping and sliding on the Rice-Eccles carpet, another shutout is a strong possibility. Meola was let down by the US backline in Cary, NC on Tuesday. The same won’t happen tomorrow. Advantage: New York

The Red Bulls’ strikers vs. the RSL backline:
Youri Djorkaeff and Edson Buddle vs. Chris Brown, Eddie Pope, Carey Talley, and Daniel Torres (and Scott Garlick). The RSL vets have let in five goals in two games vs. Chivas and Dallas, and Pope’s 90 minutes for the US Tuesday vs. Jamaica may have taken a little out his tank. The speedy Buddle could feast on RSL’s older legs, especially if he’s given the opportunity to run into the box rather than getting the ball up top. Garlick’s porn-star ‘stache won’t save him. Slight Advantage: New York

The Midfielders:
Amado Guevara, Danny O’Rourke, Chris Henderson, and Seth Stammler (NY) vs. Chris Klein, Kenny Cutler, Douglas Sequeira, Mehdi Ballouchy (RSL). It’s clear that El Lobo hasn’t shown well in NY’s first two matches, but Cutler and Ballouchy are still green with only twenty-five MLS appearances between them. Klein is a natural goal-scorer who gets points for his free-kick goal of the week vs. Dallas last time out. Henderson’s strong play out wide will help the NY cause. Slight Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Mo Johnston should get credit for the Red Bulls’ two decent results to date. He’s got to convince his club to go for the kill this week. John Ellinger has to show improvement now if he wants to keep his job. Advantage: New York

The Intangibles:
RSL should get a boost from a big, loud crowd in its home opener on a clear and chilly night. New York has traditionally underachieved against poorer competition, but the pressure is all on Ellinger and RSL. Advantage: New York

The Red Bulls don't stampede, but have a strong outing and get the result against a team they should beat. The undefeated season continues. Score: 2-0 New York

Give Him a Break
Ok, Alexi says he’s not leaving. If the Red Bulls don’t deliver, he’ll be shown the door, just like any GM in any league. Can we stop talking about this now? Thanks.

The Tube of Boob
Happy Passover, Easter, or happy weekend to all. Here’s a sampling of the matches on TV this weekend (All times EDT):

SATURDAY, April 15
7:30am: EPL: Bolton-Chelsea, FSC
10:00am: GER: Hertha Berlin-Borussia Dortmund, FSC
11:00am: ITA: Palermo-Roma, GOL
12 noon: EPL: Newcastle-Wigan, FSC
1:00pm: ECU-Dep. Quito-Aucas, GOL
3:00pm: EPL: Everton-Tottenham, FSC
4:00pm: MLS: Columbus-Chicago, ESPN2
4:00pm: ESP: Dep. Coruna-Sevilla, GOL
5:00pm: ITA: Cagliari-Juventus, FSC
6:00pm: MEX: Atlante-Unam, GALA
6:00pm: MEX: Tigres-Chiapas, TELEF
6:00pm: BRA: Vasco Da Gama-Internacional-RS, GOL
7:30pm: MLS: DC United-Houston, HDNet
8:00pm: COL: Once Caldas-Ind. Medellin, GOL
8:30pm: MLS: Kansas City-New England, DK
9:00pm: MLS: Colorado-FC Dallas, DK
9:00pm: MLS: Real Salt Lake-New York, DK, MSG

10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-Morelia, GALA
11:00pm: MLS: Chivas USA-Los Angeles, ESPN2

SUNDAY, April 16
11:00am: ESP: Valencia-Espanyol, GOL
1:00pm: EPL: Blackburn-Liverpool, FSC
1:00pm: ECU: Olmedo-Dep. Cuenca, GOL
1:00pm; MEX: San Luis-Pachuca, UNI
3:00pm: FRA: Paris SG-Lyon, FSC
3:00pm; ESP: Atl. Madrid, Atl. Bilbao, GOL
5:00pm: BRA: Gremio-Corinthians, GOL
6:00pm: MEX: Chivas-Atlas, GALA
7:00pm: COL: Atl. Junior-America Cali, GOL
11:00pm: ARG: San Lorenzo-River Plate, FSC

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