Leading up to the Mar. 25 home opener against the Colorado Rapids, the New York Red Bulls have suggested they want to turn Red Bull Arena into a “fortress” this season.
So far, so good.
New York will test its undefeated record at Red Bull Arena (2-0) Saturday when the San Jose Earthquakes come to town for a 7pm ET kick off on MSG+. In the previous two matches, wins over the Rapids and Impact, New York has undoubtedly been fueled by the home crowd and the familiar territory at Red Bull Arena. They’ve tallied a staggering nine goals and allowed only three in those wins and have since proven to be the league’s highest-scoring side with 14 goals for.
While Thierry Henry (7) and Kenny Cooper (6) each sit at the No. 1 and 2 spots in the league’s leading goal-scorer’s table, third place contestant and San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski is right behind them with six of his own. That’s a total of 19 goals between the three of them, certainly a clear indicator that fans may be in for yet another high-scoring match at Red Bull Arena.
Cooper, who spent last season in the Western Conference as a member of the Portland Timbers, spoke recently about the new-look Earthquakes, who bring a 4-1 record into town this weekend.
“Wondolowski has had an incredible goal-scoring record the last couple years and he’s gotten off to a great start again this year,” Cooper said. “In the back, John Busch is someone who has great MLS experiences and another player I have a lot of respect for. From back to front they have a lot of good quality, and I’m sure they’ll come here hungry wanting to get a good result, but hopefully we can keep our run of wins going.”
That run of wins equates to three straight after New York captured three points on the road in Columbus this past weekend. Cooper and Henry each registered a brace, as the Red Bulls’ duo has now combined for all but one of the team’s total goals (Mehdi Ballouchy has the other).
Midfielder Dax McCarty believes this San Jose squad will prove to be a strong test for the Red Bulls’ well-rounded play.
“They’re going to present us some challenges that we haven’t seen this year,” McCarty said. “We’re at home and we need to make sure we’re confident in our abilities and obviously another three points is something that we’re going for.”
Some of those challenges include a high-flying offense, speedy attack and a strong defensive line. Head coach Hans Backe already knows his side can expect an all-new Quakes squad than the one they saw in 2011.
“I think it’s almost a new team,” said Backe. “I think Frank [Yallop] has cleaned up a lot. San Jose’s strikers of course are Lenhart and Wondolowski [and they have] suddenly brought in a lot of pace in wide positions with Chavez and Salinas. Three out of four guys are new guys in the back four so they have started very well and they are by far better than last year.”
Tickets for Saturday’s match between the Red Bulls and Earthquakes start at $20. The first 10,000 fans through the gate will receive Thierry Henry posters. Following the match, fans will be treated to a special fireworks show. Get your tickets now at Red Bulls Ticket Central or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.