Wednesday’s 7:30 PM clash against Sporting Kansas City marks the Red Bulls’ first match against their Eastern Conference opponent this season; an opponent they’ve faced in one way or another since 1996.
Dating back to the dawn of competition in Major League Soccer, the two sides have played more or less neck and neck in terms of overall record and goals scored. New York is 17-18-11 against the Kansas City franchise since the first kick on May 22, 1996 at Arrowhead Stadium, a 2-1 loss. Cumulatively, New York has scored 55 goals against KC, while allowing 59.
In other words, if history is any indication, then these two teams are in line to play a tightly-knit match at Red Bull Arena Wednesday night.
“We know the value that they have. We know the quality they have,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. “We watched a lot of tape on them, like to see where we think we can get at them, and it’s up to these guys to go on the field [Wednesday] night and do what we put down.”
Watch: Match Preview
In more recent meetings, New York has held the slight upper hand. Dating back to Red Bull Arena’s 2010 inception, the Red Bulls hold a 3-2-2 record, including a clean sweep in that same year. Last season, the Red Bulls went 0-1-2 against Sporting, with the only loss coming in a Sept. 19 match that consequently ended New York’s undefeated home streak of 10-0-3.
Sporting KC currently holds a 3-1-2 record in the East, good enough for third overall in the Conference. With players like first-year starter Claudio Bieler, who has four goals in six matches, and Graham Zusi, who has buried two in five, SKC is a team that will find its chances and make teams pay.
“Well you know about Collin and Besler, you know about their defense, Myers, you know about their midfield, you know their attacking players,” Tim Cahill said. “We worked [Wednesday] obviously on how they play, but how we’re going to try and break them down."
Kansas City is currently riding a four-game point streak after two consecutive, scoreless draws against Chicago and New England were followed up a 2-0 win over Montreal and a 1-0 win over D.C. United. Most impressively, and perhaps most concerned for Kansas City’s opponents, is the fact that the club has allowed only three goals over the first six matches, with the last one coming on Mar. 9 in a 2-1 loss to Toronto FC.
The Red Bulls will hope to crack Kansas City’s back line Wednesday in an effort to create and slip chances by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. Watch all the action live on MSG+, starting with the 7:00 PM pre-game show.
“For us, the chances will be there,” McCarty said. “We just know that we have to have a little bit more composure in front of goal, because I think if we have more composure in front of goal and we pick our corners a little bit better when we’re taking our shots, we’ll be able to beat Jimmy Nielsen, even though he is a fantastic ‘keeper.”
The Red Bulls follow up the weekday match with another home tilt on Saturday at 7:00 PM against the New England Revolution. Tickets are available now on Red Bulls Ticket Central, or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.