The defending champions take on the star-studded roster of New York.On Form
New York Red Bulls: Down in stoppage time against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, the New York Red Bulls appeared on the verge of losing consecutive matches for the first time in 2011. Then the often-maligned Mehdi Ballouchy rose up and headed in an equalizer at the death. The goal was important for two reasons. New York's set pieces have been miserable this season and the finish from the corner could signal an added dimension to the already dangerous Red Bull attack.
Secondly, the Moroccan has struggled since being acquired last season. Ballouchy will get additional minutes with teammates away at the Gold Cup and New York needs the midfielder to perform if the franchise hopes to regain first place in the East.
Colorado Rapids: Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Kosuke Kimura, Drew Moor, and Matt Pickens are the defensive warriors who have fought to keep the Rapids undefeated for five straight matches. These players have been the steady constant in the midst of changes that have challenged the defending champions.
New York: New York simply didn't deserve a point against the Dynamo. Houston was a better side for a majority of the time between Dane Richards' first minute goal and Ballouchy's finish. The match was a troubling response to the Red Bulls' defeat to Chivas USA, the club's previous match. RBNY is also poised to lose a quintet of key players to June's Gold Cup. Rather than being able to return to normalcy and past form, the Red Bulls will have to adapt and somehow survive over the next month.
Colorado: The lack of experienced forwards is restraining the Rapids from scoring. Turning possession into a goal is proving difficult for this squad.
New York: For Hans Backe, one pivotal reintroduction could be met with a decisive absence. Thierry Henry, who didn't travel to Texas due to a knee injury, could get some minutes in New York's midweek match. While Juan Agudelo is one of the most promising teenagers in the league, the American international isn't mature enough to be consistently dominant. The return of Henry, who had scored five goals in his five previous games, is crucial. However, Backe is merely hopeful that Rafa Márquez will appear due to a groin pull.
Colorado: The plan is simple, utilize the strong defense. The Rapids need to convert possession into creating opportunities, and when the chances arrive, score goals.
Henry missed the last New York game with a knee injury
New York: The tilt with the Rapids will be the last match before the wholesale departures to the Gold Cup. After the last pair of performances, probably New York’s most unconvincing of the season, the Red Bulls’ internationals need to put their best feet forward to assuage doubting fans.
Colorado: The reigning champs are playing three games in just six days, with New York being the midweek trip. Coach Smith may have to be careful with those recovering from injuries, and hope their endurance holds up.
Avery Raimondo: The Red Bulls roster is too talented for three consecutive disappointing matches. I expect RBNY to rebound with a victory.
Stephanie Gardner: This may be the most intense match of the Rapids’ week. They should be able to hold the Red Bulls, and even put one in the net themselves, making the final score 1-1.
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