Looking to go atop the Eastern Conference, the New York Red Bulls will head to the Lone Star State on Sunday and take on FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium at 3:00 PM (TV: MSG, UniMas). Here are five things to watch for as New York hopes to earn their third win in four games:
1. Will BWP continue to roll?
Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips was named MLS Player of the Week for Week 8 after he recorded four goals in two games last week to help the Red Bulls (2-2-5, 11 pts.) extend their unbeaten streak to three (2-0-1) and move one point shy of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Wright-Phillips became the first player to record a hat trick for New York since Thierry Henry did it in March 2012. The Red Bulls picked up their second-straight win in a 4-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at Red Bull Arena last Wednesday, April 23. Wright-Phillips scored two first half goals and capped off his three-goal night with a penalty kick goal in the 86th minute.
Three days later against the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium, Wright-Phillips found the back of the net again for his team-leading fifth goal of the season. Wright-Phillips is now in third place in the MLS Golden Boot race.
2. Thierry Henry could reach the century
If Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry plays on Sunday against FC Dallas it will be his 100th MLS appearance with New York. Henry has 44 goals and 30 assists in 99 games played since joining the Red Bulls in 2010. Henry is also closing in on his 100th time being in the starting 11 for the Red Bulls as he currently has started in 95 games for New York during his MLS career.
Henry is in sole possession of second place in club history in goals scored after passing Giovanni Savarese earlier this season. He only trails Juan Pablo Angel, who has 58 goals with the club, for the Red Bulls all-time scoring record. This season, Henry has scored three goals and recorded two assists for New York and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Bulls are undefeated in the last 22 games in which he has scored (17-0-5).
3. Will the Red Bulls have more reinforcements?
On a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke talked about the status of his hobbled players, specifically midfielder Tim Cahill and midfielder Bobby Convey.
“He’s slowly getting back. He’s a lot closer and tomorrow when we get back to training we’re going to really evaluate him and see where he’s at,” said Petke of Convey. “I know he worked hard the last couple of days so he looks to be trying to get back pretty quick.”
“At the end of the day, like you said, he’s [Tim Cahill] comfortable playing so many different positions and he’s effective playing so many different positions, but the first and foremost thing is for him to be 100 percent healthy and that’s why we’ve extended it an extra week without putting him into Columbus. I want to make sure that he’s really really 100 percent ready to play,” Petke said. “If he’s 100 percent to go well then decisions will be made. It’s going to be made for the best of the team and to get a result.”
Defender Richard Eckersley also remains sidelined for now with an ankle injury.
4. Who will be in Petke’s starting lineup?
Last weekend in Columbus, Petke kept the same lineup he used just three days earlier to beat the Houston Dynamo, 4-0. Cahill was available for selection and much of the talk leading up to the match was whether or not the Australian would play, but he did not despite being on the bench.
Here is the starting lineup Mike Petke selected for Wednesday against the Crew:
Luis Robles, Kosuke Kimura, Armando, Jamison Olave, Roy Miller, Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Peguy Luyindula, Eric Alexander, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry
Will Petke go with the same lineup for a third straight game or will there be changes? Will Cahill start or come in from off the bench?
5. Can the Red Bulls earn their first road win?
Last weekend, the Red Bulls took on the Crew, who are in first place in the Eastern Conference, and earned a point. However, New York has still not picked up its first road win this season, going 0-2-3 in its first five games away from Red Bull Arena.
On Sunday, the Red Bulls will face another tough opponent in FC Dallas, who are currently tied for first in the Western Conference and in the Supporters’ Shield race. Can the Red Bulls keep their unbeaten streak alive and pick up a result on the road against a tough Dallas team on Sunday?