What to Watch For When the Red Bulls Face the Columbus Crew (Sunday, 5:00 PM, MSG/UniMas)

We take a closer look at a few storylines awaiting the Red Bulls as they prepare to host the Columbus Crew Sunday at 5:00 PM on MSG/UniMas. For tickets, visit Red Bulls Ticket Central or call 877.RB.SOCCER.

Defensive Consistency
It’s been a regular theme over the last few What to Watch For installments, but that’s just because it’s getting better with each game. While certain individuals like Markus Holgersson in Week 11 against New England and Jamison Olave in Week 12 against LA have received individual praise, the Red Bulls’ defense as a whole has been stellar as of late. The club has forfeited only four goals over the club’s current six-game unbeaten run, and will go up against a shorthanded Columbus Crew squad Sunday at Red Bull Arena. Of course, while you can’t guarantee anything on a week-to-week basis, the confidence the club has in its defense right now will be hard to surpass heading into the second of three straight home games.

Unbeaten Streak
Defense may be the backbone of the club, but the unbeaten streak is nothing to dismiss either. New York’s unbeaten run currently stands at six. In that span, the Red Bulls have outscored opponents 11-4, picked up five out of a possible six wins, and are in the process of closing out the last three matches before the break on home turf at Red Bull Arena. Dax McCarty said it best: “We pride ourselves on our form at home. And we’re usually really strong at home. We obviously need six points out of these last two games.”

Dax McCarty
Speaking of Dax, the midfielder answered a few questions after Wednesday’s training session. In the Q&A, he talks about his recovery from a quad injury sustained during an April training session, what it was like to get back out onto the pitch for a few minutes against LA, and the club’s more recent defensive efforts. It’s hard to say going into Sunday’s match what Dax’s role may be (ie. Starting XI, in the 18, coming in off the bench), but it’s always good to see a guy coming back from an injury, especially one who would only further fortify the New York defense.  

Tim Cahill
We’ve seen four goals in five games from the high-flying Aussie, three of which came in game-winning fashion (and even then, the other was the first of two scored in the 2-1 win over Toronto). The flood gates have opened up and Cahill has solidified himself as a clutch, ice-in-the-veins player for the Red Bulls. You can’t expect a goal per game from him (or any player in the league, really), but you can bet Columbus will have their eyes on him during Sunday’s match. Therein lies the hidden beauty of Tim’s game – even if he’s not the one scoring the goals, he could potentially draw enough attention to open up a teammate’s game. Case in point, any play into the box? Watch Cahill. And if you haven't seen it yet, watch this all-in-one, four-angle view of Cahill's game-winner against LA.