The Red Bulls return to action Saturday when they head to Montreal to take on the Impact, one of only three remaining undefeated teams in MLS and the only one in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal is coming off a strong 3-0 start to the season after mounting road wins over Seattle and Portland, before returning for the club’s home opener last weekend, a 2-1 win over Toronto FC.
Having established wins on the road and at home makes Montreal all the more threatening, and midfielder Dax McCarty is not ignoring that fact. If anything it’s a challenge New York is ready to face head on. The Red Bulls’ latest performance in the Red Bull Arena home opener has the team in high spirits and prepared to hand Montreal its first loss of the season.
“We were unfortunate not to get a win, but we’re hungry,” said McCarty. “We don’t feel any more pressure. The pressure is going to be on them to continue their little run going, and to take the game to us. So we’re going to be prepared.”
For head coach Mike Petke and the Red Bulls, the game plan is simple.
Match Preview: Montreal
“We just need to take a lot of what we did in D.C. and bring it up to Montreal. Get it through customs, and apply it there in Canada,” said Petke.
The Red Bulls will look to implement that game play without the likes of two players who were an integral part in creating chances for New York in last week’s 0-0 draw against D.C. United. Tim Cahill, currently on duty with the Australian National Team, and Thierry Henry, who has been forced to miss Saturday’s match with a mild MCL sprain in his left knee, combined for 14 of New York’s 24 total shots, six of them going on goal.
But that’s not a big concern for Petke. While he was quick to admit it’s not an easy task to replace Henry in the lineup, there is no shortage of options to choose from with the likes of Fabian Espindola, Josue Martinez, Amanda Moreno and recently signed forwards Rafhinha and Peguy Luyindula.
Besides, the season is still young.
“It’s three games in,” Petke said. “It’s a long season. We’ve had two tough games on the road, we’ve had a dominating performance at home, and now another tough one on the road, and then the next three games we’re on the road twice. I don’t think we have back-to-back home games for the next two months.”
Montreal has outscored opponents 5-2 over the first three matches, acquiring goals from five different players along the way. Forward Marco Di Vaio is an obvious focal point for the Red Bulls to consider, but so too is midfielder Patrice Bernier and goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
But some things can’t be backed up by statistics.
“They have the confidence and I think they got some good results on the road,” McCarty said. “But now they’re back home, so we know it’s not going to be easy.”
New York is looking to earn its first ‘W’ of the season Saturday when the kick off against the Montreal Impact at 4:30 PM on MSG. Be sure to catch the pre-game show, starting at 4:00 PM. Looking for a place to catch the match? Join the official Red Bulls viewing party at Legends in New York City. More info available here.
The Red Bulls return home on Mar. 30 to take on the Philadelphia Union. Last season New York posted a perfect 3-0 record against the Eastern Conference side, and will look to keep the win streak going in front of the home crowd at Red Bull Arena. Get your tickets now by visiting Red Bulls Ticket Central, or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.