Let's take a closer look at a few storylines ahead of Saturday's match against the Columbus Crew (Watch: 4:00 PM on NBC Sports, or come out to the official Red Bulls Viewing Party at Catas in Newark)
Can the Red Bulls make it three in a row?
You can bet New York will be looking to do everything it can to bring a three-game win streak back to Red Bull Arena for the May 8, weekday matchup against Montreal. Head Coach Mike Petke, although happy with the last two results, believes the team still has work to do on both sides of the ball. Another challenge comes in facing Columbus at Crew Stadium, a place where they’ve managed to hunker down and avoid any tallies in the loss column. Speaking of…
Can New York hand Columbus its first home loss of the season?
Three have tried but none have succeeded in handing the Crew its first home loss this season. There was San Jose on Mar. 16, a 1-1 draw, Philadelphia on Apr. 6, another 1-1 draw, and D.C. United on Apr. 27, a 3-0 win. The season is still young, but there’s never a bad time to dish out a loss to a team on their home turf.
Will the Red Bulls continue their run against Columbus?
New York has a slight edge over the Crew when it comes to the subject of all-time matchups, as the Red Bulls hold a 24-23-7 record against Columbus. If we’re looking at just last year alone, then the Red Bulls have pieced together a pretty nice run against the Crew, as New York outscored Columbus 7-2 over two matches. Add in two draws from 2011, and New York is 2-0-2 against the Crew the past two seasons. The last loss to Columbus came on July 17, 2010, falling 2-0 at Crew Stadium.
Juninho’s Return to the Midfield
Brazilian midfielder Juninho returns from his two-game suspension – one for the red card earned against Sporting KC, the other from the MLS Disciplinary Committee – and will be available for selection against the Columbus Crew. Over the last two games without him, combined with the quad injury to Dax McCarty that kept him out of the lineup against Toronto, the Red Bulls were forced to make a few shifts in the midfield. With Juninho’s return and Dax’s injury keeping him out, the Red Bulls’ midfield may have a different look than the previous two matches.
You know you hold your breath every time he lines up for a free kick, and he’s definitely been close on a number of attempts (Mar. 30 vs. Philly comes to mind, as does the glancing header off this free kick on Mar. 23). It’s only a matter of time before he nets one. Could it come this weekend against Columbus?