New York played arguably one of its worst matches of the season Thursday evening against the Seattle Sounders, an ugly 4-2 drubbing that looks closer than it really was. Usually after a loss like that, a team gets to take an entire week to think about what they had done, but New York gets a chance to forget and move on quicker as they travel to Chicago for the third stop on their road trip.
The most important thing for New York this week is to play a fundamentally sound game of soccer — no penalty kicks, adequately defended set pieces, and not botching routine plays. All of those were present, and then some, against Seattle. While the Red Bulls have been without much of their core players due to international commitments in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, they had played solid matches. Sure, the set piece issue has lingered, but that’s lingered since before the Gold Cup started. Only since the match against Portland has New York seemed like a team in disarray.
The big question seems to be whether or not Backe will go with Greg Sutton in goal again over Bouna Coundoul — a trend he has stuck with as of late. After last match though, it seems like the New York fanbase has had enough of Sutton and would like a return of Coundoul between the posts. Sutton has been prone to heroics, defending two penalty kicks in two games, but his lack of range and poor instincts have become a looming problem. There does not seem to be any viable reason to start Sutton over Coundoul this match.
The front end of the pitch should see the return of Henry, a blessing for a team that had to play without him, Rodgers, and Agudelo last match. Dane Richards, making his return to the team following Jamaica’s elimination, played admirably up front, but the return of Henry, the leading goal-scorer in the MLS, is simply a huge boon to a team needing to rebound from a less-than-stellar start.
The defensive line, once a point of great strength, has seen a drop off in late, and they have now let up seven goals in the last two games. The loss of Tim Ream and Rafa Marquez have certainly hurt, but it should not be making such a severe impact on the team’s ability to produce adequate results.
Chicago comes into the match following a draw against Real Salt Lake and have not lost in their last five match-ups. They are a solid team that does not win a whole lot, sporting two wins and a whopping 10 draws to secure their 16 points. Home has been moderately good to them, but only in the fact that they only have one loss at home compared to three away — they have only won one at home and one away, the rest are all draws.
Even with a depleted roster, with the presence of Henry, de Rosario, and Richards, New York should not lose this match.
The game will take place at 2PM ET in Toyota Park in Chicago. It will be New York’s second straight nationally broadcast match on ESPN.
REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Adam Wienckowski; JAR (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Michael Kennedy
MLS Career: 202 games; FC/gm: 25.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 54; pens: 41
CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: MF Mike Banner (L Achilles tendinitis); DF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis); MF Logan Pause (concussion); DOUBTFUL: MF Marko Maric (L deltoid sprain)
NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion); DF Chris Albright (hernia surgery); FW Luke Rodgers (L foot plantar fasciitis)
NY: Rafael Marquez (Mexico); Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream (USA)
CHI: Cristian Nazarit (through June 26)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:
CHI: Cory Gibbs, Dominic Oduro, Daniel Paladini, Gonzalo Segares
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:
CHI: Diego Chaves, Cristian Nazarit
NY: Luke Rodgers, Teemu Tainio
ALL-TIME (38 meetings): Fire 20 wins, 60 goals … Red Bulls 11 wins, 43 goals … Ties 7
AT CHICAGO (19 meetings): Fire 11 wins, 33 goals … Red Bulls 3 wins, 17 goals … Ties 5
RETURN MATCH: 8/13: New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. ET