5 Things to Watch: Red Bulls Face Crew in Battle for Top of the East

New York looks to extend winning streak to three against Columbus Saturday night

5 Things to Watch: Red Bulls Look to Win Third Straight Against Crew Saturday

New York travels to Columbus to take on the Crew at Crew Stadium

After winning both games of a two-game homestand, the Red Bulls will hit the road and look to earn their third consecutive win and first on the road against their Eastern Conference rival, the Columbus Crew.

Here are five things to watch for on Saturday evening as the Red Bulls battle the Crew at 7:30 PM at Crew Stadium. The match will be televised live on MSG with a pre-game show from Columbus starting at 7:00 PM.

1. Can the Red Bulls move to first in the East?

The Red Bulls (2-2-4, 10 pts.) will enter Saturday’s match in third place in the East, just one point behind Eastern Conference co-leaders Sporting Kansas City and the Columbus Crew. A win for the Red Bulls over the Crew would guarantee them second place and if Sporting Kansas City loses or ties on the road to the New England Revolution, the Red Bulls will be in sole possession of first place. After winning the 2013 Supporters’ Shield as the team with the best regular season record, the Red Bulls are familiar with being at the top of the table and hope to get back there on Saturday with a win.

2. Can King Henry’s scoring streak continue?

Red bulls forward Thierry Henry has two goals and two assists in his last two games for the Red Bulls. Henry scored his second goal of the season in a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia on April 16 at home. Last Wednesday, Henry had a hand in all four goals scored against the Dynamo at Red Bull Arena, picking up assists on both of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ first half goals and then adding a goal of his own in the 65th minute. Then, in the 86th minute, Henry drew a penalty in the box which Wright-Phillips converted.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Bulls are undefeated in the last 22 games in which Henry has scored in (17-0-5). Henry has had success against Columbus, scoring five goals and two assists in five games versus the Crew.

3. Will BWP’s goal streak continue?

On Wednesday, a day after missing practice and battling flu-like symptoms, Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips was in the starting lineup and made his mark on the match in a big way. Wright-Phillips had plenty of scoring opportunities starting in the 6th minute when he headed a cross high over the net. In the 12th minute, he scored his first of the game. Defender Kosuke Kimura found Henry down the right flank and the Red Bulls captain sent in a hard low cross that Wright-Phillips directed home.

Just 12 minutes later, Wright-Phillips got on the board yet again, putting home a Roy Miller cross. Finally, in the 86th minute, Henry was fouled in the box and the Red Bulls were awarded a penalty. Henry looked to Wright-Phillips, who wasted no time in taking the opportunity and firing the ball into the back of the net for the hat-trick.

Wright-Phillips now has four goals this season. His three-goal performance was the first by an English player in MLS and the first for New York since Thierry Henry scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Montreal on March 31, 2012.

“I just tried to get into the box, get into the right places. Fortunately it came off today,” said the Englishman. “You know, if you recall some of the other games, I’ve been getting in those areas. Some of them I should have been scoring, some of them I was a bit unlucky. Today it just went in, you know? Today they just went in.”

4. Can New York handle the busy schedule and keep the Crew attack at bay?

Saturday’s match will be the Red Bulls second match in four days. After having Easter weekend off, the Red Bulls will have a fast turnaround following the 4-0 midweek win against Houston. In addition, the win against Houston was also the Red Bulls first shutout of the season. Last season, New York finished the season with 11 shutouts.

Can the Red Bulls extend their winning streak to three games when they take on the Eastern Conference-leading Crew in Columbus this Saturday?

5. Will there be changes to the starting 11?

On Wednesday, the Red Bulls were without midfielder Tim Cahill due to his hamstring injury, but head coach Mike Petke hopes to have his star midfielder back in contention on Saturday at Columbus. On the back line, defender Ibrahim Sekagya was not available for selection, serving a one game suspension for a red card against Philadelphia on April 16. Armando started in place of Sekagya and defender Richard Eckersley and midfielder Bobby Convey remained sidelined with injuries.

Here is the starting lineup Mike Petke selected for Wednesday against the Dynamo:

Luis Robles, Kosuke Kimura, Armando, Jamison Olave, Roy Miller, Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Peguy Luyindula, Eric Alexander, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry

Will Cahill return the starting 11 on Saturday? Will Petke manage the minutes his players play to prevent injury or fatigue after having a game on Wednesday?