Last week, the New York Red Bulls let two points slip away in injury time vs. LA at home. Sunday afternoon, New York will have a golden opportunity to escape last place in the East when they play the West's bottom-feeder, San Jose (3-9-5), at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara (3p, MSG+).
The last time out, the New York offense was invigorated by the addition of midfielder Jorge Rojas, who assisted on both Red Bull goals in 2-2 draw with the Galaxy. Will Rojas continue to click with his new teammates? To beat the Earthquakes and win for the first time in five league matches, New York will have to overcome its own futility on the road (1-5-3) and win away from Giants Stadium for the first time since May 10th.
Position and Recent Form:
New York, 21 pts from 17 matches, 7th East, WTLLT
San Jose, 14 pts from 17 matches, 7th West, TTLTL
Here's a line-by-line look at Sunday's match:
The San Jose forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Ryan Johnson and Scott Sealy vs. Dave van den Bergh, Kevin Goldthwaite, Jeff Parke, and Chris Leitch (and Jon Conway). 11 goals in 17 matches won't win you many games, and the Quakes have won three all season. Sealy, recently traded from Kansas City, is a Red Bull killer. Johnson, the all-time scorer in Oregon State history, leads San Jose with three goals this season. New York's D did a decent job shutting down the high-powered LA offense last week... until after the ninetieth mintute. van den Bergh has been the Red Bulls' brightest spot this season with five goals scored. Advantage: New York
New York's attackers vs. the Quakes' defense:
Juan Pablo Angel and Oscar Etcheverry vs. James Riley, Ryan Cochrane, Jason Hernandez, and Eric Denton (and Joe Cannon). Despite San Jose's offensive woes, the Quakes' defense has kept them in games. In fact, SJ's D has allowed only one goal in the club's last four league outings. As much as Etcheverry tries to keep up, he simply can't match Angel's speed or skill. As a result, San Jose may ignore the Etcheverry threat and double-team JPA and dulling New York's chances. Advantage: San Jose
Carlos Mendes Luke Sassano, Jorge Rojas, and Seth Stammler, vs. Francisco Lima, Ramiro Corrales, Darren Huckerby, and Ronnie O'Brien. Without the injured Dane Richards, any New York speed advantage on the flanks has been neutralized. The Stammler-Rojas connection will be key to creating opportunites for Angel up top. San Jose's Newcomer Huckerby from England's Norwich may provide a spark as he meshes with his new teammates. Corrales and O'Brien are on the downside of their careers. Advantage: Push
In his first year back in San Jose, Quakes coach Frank Yallop has a free pass as he tries to field a competitive squad. He has a history of success that's among the league's best. New York's Juan Carlos Osorio knows he's tantlizingly close to playoff position and is trying to incorporate his new signings into the squad. All the pressure's on JCO. Advantage: San Jose
The intimate crowd in Buck Shaw will certainly lift the Quakes. New York is trying to create a little momentum in a classic trap game. The Red Bulls face DC, Toronto and Houston next. Advantage: San Jose
Prediction: JCO knows the power of a defense in sync, and San Jose has figured out how to keep the ball out of the net. The Stammler-Rojas-van den Burgh-Angel quartet break down the Quakes' D in a 1-0 New York win.
Poaching Our Young?
The Wall Street Journal's Joe Weinbach looks at European clubs mining the U.S. for youth talent. Interesting point that these elite youth players' sights are firmly on Europe, not MLS.