Friday, April 06, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 1 @ Village People

After yet another off-season of change, the Red Bulls will kick off the 2007 season tomorrow at the Erector Set in mid-Ohio in the least-compelling match of opening weekend. The forecast is for snow and cold, so perhaps we'll get to see the yellow ball, if not too many yellow-clad Crew fans. Here's a line-by-line look at what to expect in moo-ville tomorrow night:

The Columbus forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Jason Garey and Andy Herron vs. Marvell Wynne, Seth Stammler, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Ronald Waterreus). Garey and the newly-arrived Herron (14 goals combined in '06) are dangerous, but the back four for NY should be able to withstand their pressure. Look for Herron to challenge Mendes and Stammler with slashing runs up the middle. Wynne may be asked to push forward often, which may leave spots on the left wing for Columbus to attack. Advantage: New York

New York's attackers vs. the Crew's defense:
John Wolyniec and Jozy Altidore vs. Marcos Gonzalez, Ezra Hendrickson, Rusty Pierce (and Andy Gruenebaum). Columbus' 2006 keeper injury woes were legend, and Gruenebaum had a 1.00 GAA in two starts last season. Hendrickson and Pierce are MLS greybeards, with 364 league appearances between them. The Woly and Jozy experiment commeces. Jozy got bigger in the offseason, and Woly (presumably) got grayer. Will these two mesh well enough to hit the net often? That's the big question.
Slight Advantage: Columbus

The Midfields:
Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Gaven, Ned Grabavoy, and Danny O'Rourke vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Dave van den Bergh and Clint Mathis. Loads of familiar faces on both sides of the ball here. Unless the injury bug bites him in his first MLS start, Reyna should be able to control possession for NY. Gaven and O'Rourke will still want to prove that NY made mistakes by sending them away. My suspicion is that VDB will be the difference maker here. Anything that Clint provides is a bonus. Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
The Sigi vs. Bruce matchup provides a battle of the bellies par excellence. Seriously, these two are among the most experienced coaches in MLS. One of them (though he's done everything to suppress expectations) has pressure on him to perform. The other... coaches in Columbus. Advantage: Columbus

Reyna! Mathis! Wynne! Altidore! New York offers the past and future stars of the National Team. Columbus has Hejduk, whose mojo will be disrupted big time by the freezing temps. If attendance tops 10K in the horrible conditions, I'll fall over. Advantage: New York

Prediction: The two clubs will kick the ball around for 90 minutes in more of an attempt to keep warm that play attractive soccer. A classic, late Woly goal provides the difference. NY 1-0.

The Tube

Six MLS matches highlight the weekend's viewing opportunities, all times ET. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7
9:25am: GER: Hamburg-Stuttgart, GOL
10:00am: EPL: Reading-Liverpool, FSC
11:30am: ITA: Reggina-Inter Milan, GOL
12noon: EPL: Portsmouth-Man. United, FSC
2:00pm: ESP: Real Zaragoza-Barcelona, GOL
2:15pm: EPL: Wigan-Bolton, FSC
3:30pm: MLS: Colorado-DC United, ABC
4:00pm: ESP: Atletico Bilbao-Valencia, GOL
5:00pm: ITA: Catania-Roma, FSC
6:00pm: MLS: Real Salt Lake-FC Dallas, DK, FSSW
6:00pm: ITA: AC Milan-Empoli, GOL
6:00pm: MEX: Monterrey-Atlans, GALA
7:00pm: MLS: Columbus-New York, HDNet, MSG2
8:00pm: COL: Millonarios-Tolima, GOL
8:00pm: MEX: Chivas Guad.-Tigres, TF
8:30pm: MLS: Chicago-New England, DK, CSNC, TV38
10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-San Luis, GALA
10:30pm: MLS: Chivas USA-Toronto FC, FSC

Sunday, April 8
9:00am: ITA: Lazio-Messina, FSC
11:00am: ESP: Sevilla, Racing Santander, GOL
1:00pm: GER: Werder Bremen-Nuremburg, GOL
1:00pm: MEX: Pumas-Club America, UNI
3:00pm: ESP: Villareal-Atletico Madrid, GOL
5:00pm: ARG: Velez Sarsfield-Boca Juniors, FSC
5:00pm: URU: Nacional-Rocha, GOL
7:00pm: MLS: Houston-LA Galaxy, TF
7:00pm: COL: Quindio-Atletico Nacional, GOL
7:00pm: JAM: Portmore United-Boys Town, FSC

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