Coming off a dramatic 1-1 tie against Chivas USA last Sunday, the Red Bulls are unbeaten in their last three games, but are still looking for their first victory of the season. They begin a two-game road trip on Saturday, when they travel north of the border to visit the also winless Montreal Impact (0-3-1). Here are five things to watch for this weekend (Saturday at 4:00 PM live on MSG).
1) Can the Red Bulls carry Sunday’s late momentum into Canada?
On Sunday at Red Bull Arena, after a lackluster first half, the Red Bulls stormed into the second half with some solid spells of attacking play, which ultimately culminated in Peguy Luyindula’s stoppage time goal off an Eric Alexander header.
Aside from his late game heroics, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke was pleased with the Frenchman and the team’s performance overall after halftime.
“[Peguy’s] ability to possess the ball, to hold the ball, and to distribute the ball was very good,” said Petke. His interactions in the second half with guys like Lloyd [Sam], with Bobby Convey, Thierry up front, you know, Bradley [Wright-Phillips] up front, at times was very, very good. I saw a work rate in Peguy that I’m very happy with.”
The Red Bulls, which had a series of attempts to score and were thwarted on several times by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, hope that despite not getting the full three points, they can carry this momentum into Montreal on Saturday.
2) Injury bug bites New York
On Sunday, Tim Cahill and Richard Eckersley suffered injuries against Chivas USA. Cahill came up limping in the 29th minute and was replaced by Wright-Phillips and Eckersley was taken off in first half stoppage time for Kosuke Kimura.
Cahill has been diagnosed with a mild hamstring strain and Eckersley is out with an ankle sprain. During his weekly conference call with the media, Petke updated reporters on the status of Cahill and Eckersley for this weekend against Montreal.
“What we’re looking at [with Cahill] is a mild hamstring strain. I could say that I hope to have him back in two weeks, but for now, it looks like he will be out next weekend with a hamstring strain. From the conversations I’ve had with our medical department, it is not a tear. It’s definitely a strain and with Tim we all know, you say he’ll be back in three weeks, he’ll be back in a week and a half, you say he’ll be back in six weeks, he’ll be back in four weeks,” explained Petke.
“[Eckersley] has an ankle sprain, so he is definitely out. I know after the game his ankle was like a softball, so it looked pretty bad, and we’ll take that as a week to week thing.”
Kimura also suffered a minor knock on Sunday, but Petke said he is “good to go” for this weekend.
3) Will Henry and Olave play in Montreal?
Petke and the Red Bulls medical staff have been known to take preventative measures for players such as Henry and Olave when playing on turf fields to avoid injuries. On Tuesday, Petke would not give any hints as to whether his star forward or his anchor on defense would be playing against Montreal at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
“There’s always that situation that we come to have a conversation and decide that they are good to go on this turf. I’m not ready to make any statement right now, but there is always a chance,” Petke said. “Having said that, we have, from what I think, a deep roster. I have total confidence in whoever jumps in, if they are not going to go [play], in their place.”
4) Stopping Di Vaio and company
The Impact was able to come back and earn its first point of the season in a 1-1 draw at Philadelphia last Saturday. Montreal went down a man following a straight red card to Andrew Wenger, but Marco Di Vaio, returning from a three-game suspension, scored with 10 minutes to play to ensure the tie.
A 20-goal scorer in 2013, Di Vaio will be one of the Impact’s main threats, as has scored three goals and one assist in four games against New York.
5) Impressive Reserves
The Red Bulls Reserves continue to impress Petke and the rest of the coaching staff. On Sunday evening, following the Red Bulls 1-1 draw against Chivas USA, the Red Bulls Reserves defeated the USL PRO side Dayton Dutch Lions, 3-0, at Red Bull Arena. Second half goals from Michael Bustamante, Eric Stevenson, and Matt Miazga helped the Red Bulls earn their first win of the season.
“A number of players played well. Connor Lade, who we’ve moved to more of a central holding position over the last two reserve games and in practice continues to raise his game and it’s great to see because Connor is someone I really admire since he’s been here. Again, like I just talked about, Chris Duvall, smart player out at outside back, Matt Miazga in the middle, you know, continues to be a huge bright spot for us in the future. And of course Ryan Meara, who I was very impressed with the ball at his feet, of course with his saves and everything, but with the ball at his feet, the comfort level and distribution, so those four guys in particular. But overall, I was impressed with the result that they got and large chunks of the game I was very impressed with all of them.”
The Reserves will play against their Impact counterparts on Sunday morning in Montreal.