Friday, April 18, 2008

Red Bulls Preview: Game #3 vs. Buffalo Bills

Coming off a road loss always smarts, but the Red Bulls get some home cooking and A-list players back on the field Saturday night when New York (1-1-0) hosts perennial MLS Cup runners-up New England (2-2-0) at Giants Stadium (7:30p, HDNet).

Going down by a goal is always tough. Going down by a goal in the opening minute on the road makes for a more daunting task, but that's just what happened to New York in last week's match in Dallas. Without a hurting Juan Pablo Angel at the Deep Dish, the Dallas D rightly keyed on Red Bulls' F Jozy Altidore, limiting his chances. The good news is that Altidore and Angel will play together for the first time this season tomorrow night. New England has been on a complete roller coaster this season. A home 3-0 beat-down of Houston in week 1 was followed by an embarrassing 0-4 loss at Chicago. A surprising 3-1 win at Eastern contender Kansas City was followed by a 0-1 home loss to Colorado. Which Revs squad will show tomorrow night? Stay tuned.

Recent Form:
New York: WL
New England: WLWL

Here's a line-by-line look at tomorrow's match:

The New England forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Adam Christman and Kenny Mansally vs. Chris Leitch, Jeff Parke, and Kevin Goldthwaite (and Jon Conway). Mansally (1g, 1a) and his fellow Gambian signing Sainey Nyassi have been the talk of the league over the season's first month. Christman leads NE in shots (12) and has hit the net once this year already. The Red Bulls get Jeff Parke back at central defense after a one-match suspension, and will match up well with Christman (6'1", 185 vs. 6'0", 180). It's on the wings that the lightning-fast Mansally will have a field day, especially with good midfield service. Advantage: New England

New York's attackers vs. the Revs' defense:
Jozy Altidore and Juan Pablo Angel vs. Amaechi Igwe, Michael Parkhurst, and Jay Heaps (and Matt Reis). Finally! Angel and Altidore will get on the field at the same time, can could wreak havoc (ht: Ty Keough) with New England's 3-man back line. The Revs' Igwe has tightened things up in back (GAA of 1.0) since he knocked Chris Albright to the bench. Hard to believe that Jay Heaps is 32 years old. Where does the time go? Advantage: New York

The Midfields:
Luke Sassano, Seth Stammler, Claudio Reyna, Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Dave van den Bergh, vs. Khano Smith, Shalrie Joseph, Mauricio Castro, Jeff Larentowicz, and Sainey Nyassi. Castro is still jelling with his NE teammates, but the core of Smith, Joseph, and Larentowicz are a veteran group. Nyassi is a burner with skill, as he proved with his Goal of the Week vs. the Dynamo. Can VDB handle him? Unlikely. Reyna had a great game last week in the NY loss to Dallas, but the carpet of Giants Stadium seems to hinder him. Joseph usually has NY's number. Slight Advantage: New England

The Coaches:
Despite not bringing home the MLS Cup in four tries, Steve Nicol has been one of the best coaches in MLS (75-56-47) over the years. He always gets the most of his low-wage players, and seems to have two winners in his Gambian pair. Juan Carlos Osorio will be happy to have Parke back in Center-D, but the jury's still out on him. Three points would help in an Eastern Conference that is already pulling away from the Red Bulls. Advantage: New England

Despite losing to the Revs in last season's playoffs, New York felt it played better in the two-game series, and lost on a flukey goal when Angel was off the field for medical attention. A passionate 17K at New York's home opener lifted the team. The Midnight Riders will travel in numbers for the match, and always matches the NY supporters song for song. Weather: Mostly Sunny, low of 49. Nice. Advantage: Push

Prediction: Angel and Altidore lead their team out of bondage on Passover. Nyassi hits the net, but New York takes a physical 2-1 victory.

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