On Sunday, the New York Energy Drinks visit Toyota Stadium for a midday battle with our boys in red and slightly darker red hoops. With injuries and suspension and Stephen Keel's gif, there's plenty to talk about on the FC Dallas side, but what about the other guys? This week, I spoke to Matt at Once A Metro to answer a few questions that I had:
1) Looking at the MLS Stat Leaders for 2014, the Red Bulls have representation in the Top 5 of the major offensive statistics: goals, assists, shots, shots on goal, and then even Luis Robles tops the saves category as of this week. What's behind this success? Is it due to Mike Petke; individual players' effort; team chemistry?
Probably a bit of everything. Bradley Wright-Phillips is hot right now, scoring a hat trick mid-week against the Dynamo before notching the game-tying goal against the Crew over the weekend. Lloyd Sam's goal total can be credited a bit to him, who realized he needed to bring more than just speed and a good cross to the side, and to Petke, who pushed him to work on his defensive game.
With Henry and shots, well, he's Thierry Henry. With Robles, he's bailed the Red Bulls out more times than I can count.
2) What is your opinion on the NYCFC Yankee Stadium announcement? They jumped on to the soccer stage with a lot of big promises and bravado laying claim to NYC over the Red Bulls, but playing in a baseball field feels very MLS 1.0.
No one is going to build anything in New York on 22 month's notice. Case in point: One World Trade Center. The Twin Towers replacement? That hasn't opened yet.
Because of that, I think we all knew they'd play in Yankee Stadium to start. The issue is beyond that. There was lot of trepidation in the real estate community over new Mayor Bill de Blasio's election, and I'm not sure he's keen on playing ball with a team whose minority owner just got a new stadium built with considerable public funds and whose majority owner has less-than-savory politics.
So that puts the Yankees in a weird situation, with President Randy Levine forward and saying, "Oh, yeah, we'll consider options outside of New York." To me, that's a power play with the city, but I don't know where their leverage is coming from. Whatever part of New York they're looking at will get by just fine without the city opening the public coffers to help out, and it's not as if there will be a considerable uproar from people, like there'd be if the Yankees left for Yonkers (just north of the Bronx) or the Mets for Nassau County (just east of Queens on Long Island).
That leaves their whole deal -- five boroughs, one city is their slogan thus far -- dead in the water. New Yorkers can be very provincial, part of that is because it can be really tough to get around the city and part because of run-of-the-mill zip code elitism. They're trying to get the people too good to go to New Jersey to watch soccer to pay attention to them, subtlety playing up the idea New Jersey is a backwater. What good is it if they're in Yonkers?
3) The average age of the NYRB starting XI is 30. How do the Red Bulls maintain endurance through a busy 2014 season including MLS, US Open Cup, World Cup, and the CONCACAF Champions League later this year?
The Red Bulls are old, but there are a lot of them. Jonny Steele, who had a breakout year last year, still hasn't played many minutes in 2014. Bobby Convey has been in and out of the trainer's room with various injuries. Ibrahim Sekagya has been called into action more than a few times thanks to Armando's injury and card troubles, but he's up to the task (by Red Bulls' standards).
And it's not just the old guys. There are younger guys who can step up. Twenty-one-year-old Ruben Bover proved he can play in pre-season and in reserve league games. Petke called on central midfielder Michael Bustamante to fill in on short notice last year, and he performed admirably. Matt Miazga, the Red Bulls' 18-year-old centerback, has a lot of admirers in the Red Bulls organization.
Long story short, there's plenty of depth to compete, even after they lose Tim Cahill and Roy Miller to the World Cup.
Predicted linup and scoreline.
Robles; Kimura, Olave, Armando, Miller, Sam, McCarty, Cahill, Alexander, Wright-Phillips, Henry
Thanks again to Matt for his time and to you for reading.
What do you think about this week's matchup? Do you think FCD's youth can overcome NYRB's age? Enjoy the 2:00 PM kickoff - lucky us that it isn't 100 degrees yet!
EDIT: Here's the link to my answers over at Once A Metro