The bad news first: The Red Bulls are winless to start the 2014 season.
They’re averaging just one goal per game in the first four matches of the season and were ravaged by injuries during their 1-1 draw with Chivas USA last Sunday. Both Tim Cahill and Richard Eckersley had to be subbed off during the match due to injury and are expected to be out for Saturday’s match in Montreal.
Here’s the good news: New York is unbeaten in its last three matches and has been much better defensively since their opening-match nightmare in Vancouver. They’ve shown grit and determination in the last two matches to come back from a goal down to gain a point. And they have a chance to put things right against the Impact this week.
Had it not been for the efforts of Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, the Red Bulls would have already wrapped up their first win. They dominated the statistical categories against Chivas – they tallied more shots and enjoyed the majority of possession – and were rewarded for their persistence with an injury-time equalizer by Péguy Luyindula.
“It’s a new scenario, a new week, it’s a road game, so of course we want to carry momentum,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke told the media Thursday. “We didn’t lose [to Chivas USA], we haven’t lost in three games, so that’s a positive for us. Now, it’s about going into Montreal and taking the mentality of a road game.”
The task facing the Red Bulls when they head into Olympic Stadium will be a daunting one. The game will be played on artificial turf and will probably mean that Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave will miss the game due to the wear and tear the unnatural surface causes their respective bodies. With Cahill and Eckersley already out due to injury, Saturday’s match will test the depth of the Red Bulls' squad.
“It’s about adapting,” Petke said. “It's about players stepping up in roles, it’s about figuring out who we do have and putting them in the best situations, and the best positions to succeed and that’s what we’ve been trying to do this week.
It doesn’t matter if we’re on grass, turf, concrete, sand, it doesn’t matter or at home or on the road. Every game is a new challenge for us and we prepare them they best we can. It’s on [the coaching staff] to prepare them, on [the players] to take that information and preparation, and put it to good use."
A LOOK AHEAD: MONTREAL IMPACT
It will be a battle of winless teams Saturday in Montreal as both the Red Bulls and Impact continue their search for their first victory of the season. (Complete coverage starts at 3:30 PM on MSG).
Having lost their first three matches under new coach Frank Klopas, the Impact earned their first point of the new campaign with a 1-1 draw with the Union in Philadelphia last Saturday. Down to 10 men, Montreal found a way to equalize, via star striker Marco DiVaio, who tallied his first of the season last week.
A 20-goal scorer last season, DiVaio tallied 15 of his goals in home matches in 2013. Without Olave, the Red Bulls will have to be doubly vigilant in order to keep the Italian off the scoresheet.