Episode 353: Up & Down Week, Alicia Rodriguez of Angels on Parade

BWP nets his 100th league goal in a win at DC, then New York comes out with an experimental lineup and formation and Columbus and lays an egg. Mark and Joe break down the highs and lows, then chat with Alicia Rodriguez in LA to provide a preview of Sunday’s first-ever clash with LAFC. A blazing hot mailbag closes the show.

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Seeing Red Preview: MLS Gm 4: New York at Orlando City

 

 

Projected Starters Above

It’s a big week for the Red Bulls, who travel to Central Florida to take on a winless Orlando City side before heading to Mexico for the first leg of the CCL Semifinals. With the two matches just three days apart, and the altitude of Guadalajara (almost 5,200 feet), look for Jesse Marsch once again to rotate his squad to ensure the best possible outcome in the CCL. While a second-choice lineup can get the job done, the Red Bulls coach is rightly focused on the continental tournament. Of course, a major storyline for the match is New York facing Sacha Kljestan for the first time with Orlando. The Lions will be desperate for a win, and will have Dom Dwyer finally back from injury. Can the Red Bulls snatch a point on the road?


Match Information

Saturday, March 31st at Orlando City Stadium. 1pm ET kickoff

TV/Streaming: UniMas/Deportes App

Red Bulls Radio: TuneIn App and www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio

Referee: Jair Marrufo

MLS Record, GF/GA, Division & League Position, Current League Form

Orlando: 1 point from 3 gms, 2GF/5GA, 9th East, t18th MLS, DLL

New York: 6 points from 3 gms, 7GF/1GA, t3rd East, t5th MLS, WLW

Last Meeting:

RBNY 3-1 ORL on 8.12.17 (OG 30′, BWP 60′, Davis 80′; Rivas ’18)


The Lions’ Attack vs. the New York Back Line

Dom Dwyer and Justin Meram vs. Connor Lade, Aurelien Collin, Aaron Long, Kyle Duncan, and Luis Robles

Dom Dwyer (61 goals and 13 assists since 2012) looks to make his first MLS appearance of 2018 after injuring his quad during preseason. The naturalized American must be salivating at the thought of quality service from Kljestan. Red Bull-killer Justin Meram played for Iraq against Syria on the 27th, then hustled back to Central Florida for tomorrow’s match.  For New York, Marsch may once again go with a rotated midfield, anchored by Marc Rzatkowski, and playing the in-form Alex Muyl, who had the game of his career last week against Minnesota.  New York’s back line posted their fourth clean sheet of the year against Minnesota. Lade and Duncan should once again start at fullback with Kemar Lawrence and Amir Murillo both seeing playing time in international friendlies this week. Aurelien Collin may get a start against his former team, giving Tim Parker a break until Wednesday. Luis Robles is twelfth on the league’s all-time shutout chart with 51.

Advantage: Orlando


The Red Bulls’ Forward vs. the Orlando Defense

Carlos Rivas vs. Scott Sutter, Lamine Sane, Amro Tarek, Mohamed El-Munir, and Joe Bendik

While I believe that BWP will see some action on Saturday, Carlos Rivas (2G) may get the start against his former side. Just as Kljestan will have something to prove against New York, so will Rivas against Orlando. The Lions’ back line includes three new players, and hasn’t been terrible (five goals conceded in three matches), but has still yet to jell as a group. Sutter is the lone holdover from last season. The Englishman appeared in 32 matches for Orlando, who missed the playoffs for the third straight season. Libyan International El-Munir came to the Lions from Partizan Belgrade in the Serbian League during the offseason. Amro Tarek is a 6’3″ American-born centerback that grew up in Egypt. Tarek played one time for Columbus in 2016, on loan from Real Betis. With Jonathan Spector out with a nasty head knock suffered against NYC, Lamine Sane should get another start. The 31 year-old Senegal international signed with Orlando from Werder Bremen in February. Joe Bendik is an experienced MLS keeper with time in Toronto and Portland. His team left him high and dry last time out in The Bronx, with a poor backpass, then a giveaway in the defensive third leading to both goals conceded to NYCFC.

Advantage: Even


The Midfields

Cristian Higuita, Yoshimar Yotun, Josue Colman, and Justin Meram vs. Derrick Etienne, Jr., Marc Rzatkowski, Vincent Bezecourt, Florian Valot, and Alex Muyl

One would think that a team with as much attacking talent as Orlando would be scoring goals with relative ease. New Designated Player and former Paraguay Youth International Josue Colman joined the Lions in January. Yoshi Yotun (1G) is starting his first full season with the Lions. He delivered the dreadful backpass last time out that led to NYC’s game-winning goal. D-mid Higuita made his first appearance of 2018 in the loss in The Bronx. For Sacha Kljestan, getting in the win column is the most important for his slow-starting new club, though he admitted this week that he wants to win Saturday’s match against the New York “very badly.” Bezecourt, Etienne, and Valot, who struggled last week, could fill out the lineup. A wild card is the health of Kaku Gamarra, who is listed as healthy, but was held out of last week’s match to do quad knock.

Slight Advantage: Orlando


The Coaches

Jason Kreis is only 15-23-14 as head coach of Orlando City, and needs to make the playoffs this season to keep his job. While many of his new pieces started the season either injured or suspended, Kreis must show that his success at RSL wasn’t a fluke. Marsch continues to plumb his deep lineup to positive results. The Red Bulls truly have battles at just about every position every week, with young players getting the opportunity to shine. The bigger test comes next week.

Advantage: New York


Intangibles

The Red Bulls are 1-1-1 all-time at Orlando, losing last season 0-1 on a close-in header off a corner from Servando Carrasco. New York has only allowed a single goal during the run of play in all competitions over 630 minutes. Orlando is only 7-6-6 at home since the opening of their stadium at the start of the 2017 season. Since 2013, Robles has accrued the most clean sheets (49) and saves (506) in MLS regular season play. The Red Bulls have struck first in five of their seven matches this season and are 4-0-1 when scoring first. New York has trailed for just 104 of the 630 total minutes of competitive action in 2018.  Orlando City Stadium will be sold out, and loud. Skies at kickoff will be overcast, with 73 degrees and around 60 percent humidity.

Advantage: Even


Prediction

If (and when) the Lions get their acts together, they’ll be tough to beat. With so many new pieces, it’s taking Kreis’ side a while to find themselves. If Marsch goes young (as above), Orlando may take the match. Wright-Phillips, Royer, Davis or Kaku can make a difference should they see meaningful minutes. Either way, the Red Bulls should eke out a 1-1 draw, then head to Mexico for the massive matchup with the Goats.

Seeing Red Preview: MLS Gm 3: Red Bulls v. Minnesota United

Projected Starters Above

The Red Bulls are set to host another Western Conference side during their early-season slate on a chilly Saturday night at Red Bull Arena. The Loons will make their first-ever appearance in Harrison with a few positives and plenty of negatives in their favor. Minnesota is on their first-ever two-match winning streak in their young history, and the Loons are above .500 for the first time as well. However, the visitors are missing a ton of regular starters either to injury or international call-ups, prompting head coach Adrian Heath to run out a second-choice back line. There’s plenty of attacking quality in the Loons’ lineup, however. Can New York take all three points in what looks like an early-season trap?


Match Information

Saturday, March 24th at Red Bull Arena. 7pm ET kickoff

TV/Streaming: MSG2/MSG Go

Red Bulls Radio: TuneIn App and www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio

Referee: Hilario Grajeda (1st assignment in 2018)

MLS Record, GF/GA, Division & League Position, Current League Form

New York: 3 points from 2 gms, 4GF/1GA, t5th East, t12th MLS, WL

Minnesota: 6 points from 3 gms, 6GF/5GA, t1st West, t3rd MLS, LWW

Last Meeting:

MNUFC 0-3 RBNY on 7.22.17 (Royer ’16, BWP ’67, Muyl ’90)


The Red Bulls’ Attack vs. the Minnesota Back Line

Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Carter Manley, Wyatt Omsberg, Brett Kallman, Marc Burch, and Matt Lampson

BWP (1 MLS goal) must be salivating at the thought of going up against such an experienced back line. New York’s scoring savant is having a blistering start to the year, with four tallies and three assists in six appearances in the league and CCL. Minnesota is missing both starting centerbacks, who are away with their national teams, and starting wingback Tyrone Mears is out with a right calf pull. In their places will be first-round draft picks Wyatt Omsburg (pick 15) out of Dartmouth, and Carter Manley out of Duke (pick 23) both making their MLS debuts. Joining the two youngsters should be former NASL Loon Kallman, who made 23 appearances during Minnesota’s first year in MLS, and 33 year-old Marc Burch, who is with his sixth club over a twelve-year career. The last time the Red Bulls saw Matt Lampson, he allowed four goals to New York in the 2017 Knockout Round as the keeper for the Chicago Fire.

Advantage: New York


The Minnesota Forward vs. New York’s Defense

Christian Ramirez vs. Connor Lade, Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Kyle Duncan, and Luis Robles

Ramirez (1A), the 2016 NASL Golden Boot winner, knocked in fourteen goals last season. New York’s deep defensive corps has only conceded one goal from the run of play over six matches in the league and Champions League. Playing at home against an opponent with an unproven back line, Jesse Marsch may choose to throw an extra attacker on and go with a four-man defensive unit. With Kemar Lawrence away with Jamaica, Connor Lade may make a third-straight league start for New York at left back. Parker and Long should form the centerback pairing for the Red Bulls, and Kyle Duncan, coming off strong performances against Portland and Salt Lake, should get the nod on the right again with Amir Murillo with Panama. Captain Robles, as always, will be in net.

Advantage: New York


The Midfields

Danny Royer, Marc Rzatkowski, Sean Davis, Vincent Bezecourt, and Kaku vs. Ethan Finlay, Ibson, Miguel Ibarra, Collin Martin, and Sam Nicholson

New York fans should be thrilled to finally see Kaku and Wright-Phillips start a match for the first time. Also, the return of Sean Davis after a one-match absence should make the Red Bulls’ attack a little less hodgepodge in comparison to the effort last week in Utah. It’s early, but Rzatkowski may be an upgrade over Felipe in the d-mid position. The German’s relaxed presence on the ball and confident forays forward adds another dimension to the New York attack. With Tyler Adams away with the US, the other defensive slot may fall to Vincent Bezecourt (2A), or Florian Valot, if the latter isn’t with Red Bulls II this weekend. Minnesota’s strength is in the club’s midfield corps. Ethan Finlay (2G/1A) is on his way to replicating his 12G/13A breakout season for Columbus in 2015, the year the Crew eliminated New York in the Eastern Finals. 34 year-old Brazilian Ibson (1G) has UEFA Champions League experience while with Porto. Ibarra (2A) made history as an NASL call-up to Jurgen Klinsmann’s US National Team. The midfielder returned to Minnesota after a stint with Leon in Liga MX. Collin Martin will get the start with Rasmus Schuller’s call-up to Finland. Martin is a DC United homegrown and a former US youth international at the U14, U15, U17 and U20 levels. Sam Nicholson (1G), is a former Scottish youth international and a product of Hearts’ youth academy. He’s won the starting winger job and scored in Minnesota’s home win last week vs. Chicago.

Slight Advantage: New York


The Coaches

Jesse Marsch has quality depth at every position on his squad for the first time since joining the club four years ago. He’s confident in the ability of his second choice players to get the job done as he rotates the squad due to Champions League or national team commitments. Minnesota’s Adrian Heath knows his side doesn’t have the strength to match New York, saying this week, “We could be out virtually half the team for the weekend. So it’s never ideal, but I always talk about it: One door closes, another door opens for somebody else.”

Advantage: New York


Intangibles

As the teams have met just once before, there’s not a ton to go on here. The Loons have a road win on the season, at a poor Orlando side. The Red Bulls won their only other home league match in convincing fashion, four-nil over Portland. With his next league goal, Wright-Phillips will tie original MLS player Roy Lassiter for twelfth on the all-time MLS scoring list. At 85-20-30, New York has the best MLS home record in the league since the opening of Red Bull Arena in 2010. Minnesota has four road wins in their short MLS club history. The Red Bulls’ next win will be Jesse Marsch’s fiftieth league victory with the club. Saturday night’s weather will be cold for late March, with temps around forty and mostly cloudy skies. Given recent history for cold night matches this early in the season, the crowd should be light.

Advantage: New York


Prediction

Saturday’s match is a trap, plain and simple. Given New York’s firepower and Minnesota’s inexperience in the back, the Red Bulls should have success going forward. The Loons will hope to score early and defend, a strategy which worked successfully last week by Salt Lake. The Red Bulls won’t succumb, however, cruising to a three-one win, and nudging up the Eastern table.