What to Watch For When the Red Bulls Face the Seattle Sounders (Sunday, 9:00 PM, ESPN)
Let's take a look ahead at a few storylines ahead of Sunday's action when the Red Bulls head out west for a 9:00 PM clash against the Seattle Sounders. Watch live on ESPN, or follow updates and video clips throughout via our Twitter feed.
Key Players Likely Out
On Tuesday Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke revealed that he will likely be without forwards Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips, plus defender Jamison Olave, for Sunday’s match against the Seattle Sounders. Unfortunate as it may be for the Red Bulls to be without three starters, it would also appear the Sounders are facing similar circumstances. According to a number of reports, Clint Dempsey is questionable for Sunday’s match with a hamstring injury, while forward Eddie Johnson is also listed as questionable after he recently left training with an apparent shoulder injury. Similar to Petke, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid may be looking to play this one carefully.
Keeping the Win Streak Alive
The Red Bulls take a four-game win streak into CenturyLink Field this Sunday, matching the season’s best run of the year when they posted four-straight wins back in April/May. No one ever said Seattle was the easiest place to play, but New York will have to battle hard against a team that probably isn't all that happy to have seen a five-game win streak snapped this past weekend in a 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy.
Supporters’ Shield Race
With regards to the Supporters' Shield race, Sunday’s match is a battle of No. 1 (Red Bulls) vs. No. 2 (Sounders). As if the playoff race wasn’t tight enough, the Supporters' Shield race tends to be an even closer one. League-wide outcomes from this upcoming weekend will likely generate a smaller list of teams, but as of right now it would appear that close to seven clubs are legitimately in the running: New York (51 points), Seattle (50), Sporting Kansas City (48), Real Salt Lake (48), Portland Timbers (46), LA Galaxy (45) and the Montreal Impact (45). We’re looking at a six-point difference from top to bottom there. Something to chew on: 66 points took the trophy in 2012 and 67 got it done in 2011. Those are pretty much the only two seasons you can draw a direct comparison to in 2013, since the league extended the schedule to 34 games after 2010. Friday’s SKC vs. Philadelphia Union match may be one worth keeping an eye on, along with Saturday’s Chicago vs. Montreal clash.
Punching the Postseason Ticket
Earlier this week we went over a few playoff scenarios ahead of the weekend matchup. As it stands right now, a result in Seattle – whether a win or draw – could potentially lock up a spot in the postseason by the time the final whistles blows at CenturyLink Field. Seeing as how action doesn’t kick off until 9:00 PM Sunday, we’ll have a better idea where the club stands right around that time.