Friday, September 29, 2006

Desperation In the Red Bull Nation

For the second straight season, New York will need a late-season push to get into the MLS Cup playoffs. There are plenty out there that feel that missing the playoffs will do more good than harm for the long-term prospects for the Red Bulls, considering a first-round matchup with Eastern Conference Champion DC United would await in the post-season. Here are the current standings...

Team, Pts, GD, (matches to play)
1. Y - DC United, 55 +17 (2h/1a)
2. X - Chicago, 44, + (1h/2a)
3. New England, 39, +0 (2h/1a)
4. Kansas City, 34, -2 (2h/1a)
5. New York, 32, -1 (2h/1a)
6. Columbus, 27, -16 (2h/1a)

The 10/14 KC at NY match looms, but a Wizards win over RSL and a Red Bulls loss at home to Chicago on Saturday would all but extinguish New York's hopes. Here's how I see things matching up for tomorrow's tilt with the US Open Cup champs.

The Chicago forwards vs. The Red Bulls' back line:
Chris Rolfe and Andy Herron vs. Jeff Parke, Marvell Wynne, Carlos Mendes, and Todd Dunivant (and Jon Conway). Herron (8 goals) and Rolfe (6) account for over a third of the Fire's 39 goals. Chicago's offense has been on... well, has been really strong of late, hitting for 13 goals in the club's last 10 games, including USOC matches. Herron has four game-winners on the year, but has yet to find the net against New York in three matches this season. The Red Bulls have given up seven goals in the last three games. Advantage: Chicago

New York's attackers vs. The Fire defense:
John Wolyniec and Youri Djorkaeff vs. C.J. Brown, Tony Sanneh, and Dasan Robinson (and Matt Pickens). Three goals against DC last week were nice, but none came from New York's starting forwards. Woly has cooled off significantly since the 6-0 RSL game. Youri looks like he's ready to head back to Paris. Chicago, despite its graying back line, has allowed only five goals in its last seven matches. Advantage: Chicago

The Midfielders:
New York's Markus Schopp, Amado Guevara, Danny O'Rourke, and Dema Kovalenko vs. Chicago's Justin Mapp, Chris Armas, Diego Gutierrez, Gonzalo Segares, and Thiago. While Guevara is in terrific form after his two goal, one assist perfomance in DC, and Schopp will be more comfortable with his mates, the Fire's mix of up-and-comers and veterans have stronger help both in front and behind them. Advantage: Chicago.

The Coaches:
Bruce Arena vs. Dave Sarachan. The "master" in this relationship was able to motivate his team to a competitive match last week against a better team. Sarachan "the student" is riding high after beating LA for another piece of hardware for the Fire. Advantage: Push

In my mind, the only way the Red Bulls win this game is if Chicago, realizing they have little to play for, and still in celebration mode from their USOC win on Wednesday, decides to take the night off. If Arena can get his forwards motivated, there is a chance, however small, for an upset. Advantage: New York

The Prediction: Chicago is 4-1 in it's last 5 league games. Over the same span, NY is 1-4. Chicago wins, 2-0.

Television Weekend
Lots, lots, lots on the tube this weekend (all times ET):

SATURDAY, Sept. 30
9:30pm: GER: Wolfsburg-Bayern Munich, GOL
10:00am: ENG: Chelsea-Aston Villa, FSC
12noon: ENG: Sheffield United-Middlesbrough, FSC
12noon: ITA: Atalanta-Reggina, GOL
2:00pm: GER: Werder Bremen-Moenchengladbach, GOL
2:15pm: ENG: Everton-Manchester City, FSC
4:00pm: ESP: Atletico Bilbao-Barcelona, GOL
5:00pm: ITA: Torino-Lazio, FSC
6:00pm: MEX: Atlante-Chiapas, GALA
6:00pm: BRA: Paranaenese-Sao Paulo, GOL
7:00pm: USL1: Championship: Rochester-Vancouver, FSC
7:30pm: MLS: New York - Chicago, MSG, HDNet
7:30pm: MLS: New England-Colorado, DK
8:00pm; MEX: Chivas-Club America, TELEF
8:30pm: MLS: Houston-DC United, DK
8:30pm: MLS: Kansas City-Real Salt Lake, DK
8:30pm: COL: Ind. Medellin-Once Caldas, GOL
10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-UAG, GALA
10:30pm: MLS: Los Angeles-Chivas USA, DK

SUNDAY, Oct. 1
9:00am: ITA: Cagliari-Inter Milan, FSC
9:00am: ITA: AC Milan-Siena, GOL
11:00am: ENG: Tottenham-Portsmouth, FSC
12noon: ESP: Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid, GOL
1:00pm: MEX: Toluca-Veracruz, UNI
2:00pm: GER: Hertha Berlin-Stuttgart, GOL
2:00pm: NCAAW: Texas vs. Oklahoma, ESPNU
3:00pm: ARG: Boca Juniors-Velez Sarsfield, FSC
4:00pm: ESP: Valencia-Gimnastic, GOL
4:00pm: USA: WNT-Chinese Taipei, ESPN2
6:30pm: COL: Millonarios-Chico, GOL
9:30pm: ITA: Roma-Empoli, GOL

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