THE FIVER: Story-lines to watch ahead of RBNY vs. Philly

Story-lines to watch ahead of RBNY vs. Philly

 

The New York Red Bulls got a big 4-1 win over the Columbus Crew at home on Saturday night to extend their unbeaten streak to five games and break a tie place with Columbus that they’d shared for a month. With the win, the Red Bulls improve to 5-5-8 and are now tied with the New England Revolution for fourth place in the East. Saturday was the third time this season in which New York has scored four goals but the first of three in which no one player scored more than one goal. Bradley Wright-Phillips extended his MLS Golden Boot lead with the game-opening goal, his 15th, and Thierry Henry scored the game-winner with a beautiful rebound into the side netting. Lloyd Sam and Eric Alexander both scored their second goals of the season.

The Red Bulls have a two-game week starting with travelling to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Kick-off on ESPN2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Here are five stories to watch:

1. LEAGUE LEADERS

Sporting Kansas City’s Dom Dwyer added his 13th and 14th goals of the campaign but Wright-Phillips opened the Columbus game with his 15th of the season. With the goal, the striker maintains his lead atop the MLS Golden Boot standings.

Two other Red Bulls lead in MLS stat categories: Luis Robles and Thierry Henry. With three assists on Saturday, Henry jumped up into sole possession of the top spot with nine. He has now equaled his assists total from a year ago, with 16 games left to play, while his record is 12 during the 2012 season. Goalkeeper Luis Robles added three more saves against Columbus and remains the leader in that category with 63.

2. THIERRY HENRY BREAKING RECORDS

With his third assist of the night on Saturday, Thierry Henry has now moved passed both Tab Ramos and Amado Guevara for first all-time in regular season assists. However, the trio are now tied at 39 for assists across all competitions. Henry’s game-winning goal on Saturday also moved him past Clint Mathis for second all-time across all competitions with 45. The Frenchman is in fine form for New York and will look to help lead his team against Philadelphia and extend their unbeaten streak.

3. FIVE GAMES UNBEATEN

Starting with a hard-fought road draw at Sporting Kansas City, the Red Bulls have rattled off five games straight without a loss (2-0-3). The recent 4-1 defeat over Columbus was impressive; but not nearly as impressive as the 2-0 road victory over then-East leaders New England, a game in which rookies Matt Miazga and Ambroise Oyongo received their first league starts.

Over the five games, New York have scored 11 goals and conceded just five goals. The team’s current run of form will be crucial for the tough upcoming schedule that includes many 3-game weeks and CONCACAF Champions League games.

4. FIRST OF MANY MULTIPLE-GAME WEEKS

The remaining schedule begins to get very congested this week. Between now and the end of the MLS regular season, there will be five weeks with at least three games over a seven-day period. There is also an additional week with two games in four days. Head Coach Mike Petke will have many roster decisions to make over the coming months but this week will give us our first insight into what starting line-up changes may take place during these trying weeks. The good news is that everyone is healthy and the team is in terrific form.

5. WHAT TO EXPECT FROM PHILADELPHIA

The Union are 4-8-7 and are tied for seventh with the Chicago Fire. They are coming off a tough home draw, 3-3, against Colorado, and are 2-2-2 over their previous six matches.

Wednesday night’s game could be a high-scoring affair as Philadelphia’s 29 goals scored trails only the Red Bulls in the East. However, they have let up the second-most goals in MLS with 33. Despite scoring 20 goals over their previous 10 games, the Union have conceded 22. The 3-0 road victory over Chivas USA on May 31 was the team’s third cleansheet of the campaign and their first since April 19. Former Red Bull Sebastien Le Toux leads the team with six goals and MLS rookie Cristian Maidana is joint-second in the league with eight assists. Former #1 overall pick Andrew Wenger, acquired earlier in the season for Jack McInerney, has provided two goals and two assists over his 13 appearances.