5 Things to Watch: Red Bulls Battle Chivas USA at Red Bull Arena
Coming off a 1-1 result against the Chicago Fire in the Windy City, the Red Bulls return home to try again for their first win of the season against Chivas USA. The match will be televised live on MSG, with the pre-game show starting at 2:30 PM, and on UniMas. Below are five things to watch out for this week leading up to Sunday’s 3:00 PM battle on the pitch.
1. A young, somewhat unfamiliar opponent
Chivas USA puts out a lineup that features young, quick players who can strike at any time. So far this season, Chivas has a 1-1-1 record through its first three matches. Forward Erick Torres leads the team in goals with three and last season against the Red Bulls, he scored two goals in the only matchup between the two sides.
The last regular season meeting between the two clubs was a 3-2 Chivas victory at StubHub Center on August 25. Midfielders Tim Cahill and Dax McCarty scored goals for New York, but it was not enough to beat Chivas. This week’s match is the only regular season meeting between the two clubs, so if the Red Bulls are going to redeem themselves for last season’s loss they will have to do it this weekend on their home field. The defeat was New York’s last in the regular season – it went onto go 6-0-2, winning the 2013 MLS Supporters’ Shield.
This season, Chivas USA has a new head coach, Wilmer Cabrera. It is Cabrera’s first season as a MLS head coach. He previously served five years as the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team coach.
2. Despite recent results, Petke sees progress being made
Although the Red Bulls have yet to secure their first victory of the young season, head coach Mike Petke is pleased with the effort from his players and the progress the team is making. The team has improved its play each week on both ends of the field. Could this be the week that New York earns its first ‘W’?
After giving up a goal early to Chicago, the Red Bulls kept their composure and responded with the equalizer quickly. In the 21st minute, after a Red Bulls corner kick, Dax McCarty calmly kicked in the tying goal after the ball fell to his feet in a crowded penalty box.
"I feel like we're not satisfied with just a point, but I think we're satisfied with our performance," McCarty explained after the match. "It's a lot better than it was the first two games.”
“It's something that really we haven’t seen over the last few games. Their effort, their mindset, if you will, was good,” said Petke after the match. “It's a very positive step in the right direction."
3. Can New York be beat at home?
There’s just something about playing at home. The Red Bulls currently have a 10-game unbeaten run at Red Bull Arena that goes back to last season.
The Red Bulls have not lost a regular season home game since a 2-1 defeat against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on June 1, 2013 at Red Bull Arena. Since then, the Red Bulls have a 7-0-3 record in regular season games at Red Bull Arena, including a 1-1 draw in this season’s home opener against Colorado.
4) The Starting XI
Last week against Chicago, Mike Petke paired Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry as forwards, but Henry played most of the match as an attacking midfielder. On the backline, defender Armando was not available for selection after being suspended for one game by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for a foul he committed on Deshorn Brown in New York’s match against the Colorado Rapids on March 15. Defender Ibrahim Sekagya filled in for Armando and had a solid performance playing next to Jamison Olave. New York used two of his three substitutions, with Bobby Convey and Peguy Luyindula both coming off the bench as substitutes in the match.
What changes to the lineup with Petke make this week? Will he keep Sekagya in the lineup or will Armando start in his place? Will Cahill return to playing in the midfield? Will any new player crack the XI?
Below is the starting lineup Petke put out against Chicago:
(4-4-2 formation): Luis Robles, Richard Eckersley, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya, Roy Miller, Lloyd Sam, Eric Alexander, Dax McCarty, Jonny Steele, Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry
5) Too soon to worry: Goals will come
Mike Petke is not concerned with the team’s lack of offense through its first three games of the season. The Red Bulls have scored one goal in each of their first three games and have allowed six, with four coming against Vancouver in the Red Bulls season opener on the road. Bradley Wright Phillips, Thierry, and McCarty are the goal scorers for the team so far this season, but Petke believes his players are getting close to finding their rhythm on offense.
“We have 31 games left. You know, sometimes things take time to gel and click and as of now, like I said, it needs to continue to improve and it has. You know, from the first game, to the second game, particularly to the third game, and it’s just about getting into a rhythm and I have confidence these guys are doing that,” Petke told reporters. “No, there’s no concern at all, not at all.”