Following a scoreless draw last weekend against Toronto FC, the New York Red Bulls will look to get back on the board Saturday when they face the best in the west, Real Salt Lake, for a 7 PM match at Red Bull Arena.
RSL, currently first in the west off a 37-point, 11-6-4 record, will take on the Red Bulls for the first and only time this regular season. Fresh off a loss to Sporting Kansas City - a loss that brought RSL’s unbeaten streak to a halt at eight straight - head coach Jason Kreis will have his team firing off on all cylinders in an attempt to get back on pace. It will be up to the Red Bulls to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“I think as a footballing team they look the most complete at the minute,” midfielder Tim Cahill said after Thursday’s training session. “They’re scoring their goals and obviously not conceding a lot but there they seem to get the edge on a lot of teams but you know for us we’re very good at home. We put on a great performance against Montreal and you know the pressure was on then, so I suppose it’s up to us to step up to the challenge again.”
The performance against Montreal, a 4-0 win at Red Bull Arena, is a clear indication that the Red Bulls are capable of taking down top teams. At the time of that win, Montreal stood at first place in the east. With the western conference leader coming to town this weekend, followed by a match up against eastern conference leading Sporting KC on the road the following week, that win over the Impact is a firm reminder that the Red Bulls can take down the top clubs in the league.
Still, scouting the enemy is big factor in supporting that as well. Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke gave his two cents on RSL’s offensive prowess Thursday afternoon.
“They’re a dangerous team cause they’re very organized,” Petke said. “They have a system that they play that Jason [Kreis] has been working on for years and he has the right players in there so that when they do miss key players they have players to step right in and they don’t miss a beat. They’re very organized behind the ball, they like to come very narrow in the midfield and possess the ball, get numbers up to play the ball around you, and they have outside fullbacks that like to get forward and are a danger up top whoever it is, [Alvaro] Saborio, [Robbie] Findley. These guys are fast paced players who have a nose for the ball.”
The numbers don’t lie, either. Real Salt Lake is currently tied with Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the unofficial title of “highest scoring team in MLS” thanks to 33 Goals For. On the flip side, the defense has done a formidable job of shutting down opposing offenses, allowing the second fewest goals in the west, with 20 Goals Against. That goal differential of 13 is the best in the league as well.
“For me, since I have been in this league, Salt Lake has been the best team by a distance,” Thierry Henry said. “But as you know here you have to win the MLS Cup. You know if it was in any other league, Real Salt Lake would have been champions this year, like in terms of consistency. Since I have been in the league, for me, they have been the best but after, you know, playoff time, it’s another story. We usually struggle against them so hopefully we can do something against them.”
Don’t miss an opportunity to see this one live at Red Bull Arena, when RSL and New York kick off Saturday at 7 PM. Get your tickets now at Red Bulls Ticket Central, or call 877.RB.SOCCER.