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A battle of Eastern Conference foes.

On Form

New England by Allen Ramsey: Do we have to pick somebody? Including the Benfica friendly, the Revs are on nine games without a win. Hard to pick too many on form players out of that.

Red Bulls by Terence Steed: The Red Bulls are on a three match league losing streak, but the Baby Bulls have won four in a row, including three open cup wins and an impressive win over Juventus last weekend.  Hans Backe is going to take a serious look at his reserves when he picks his team Saturday.  While he may not be the headline grabber, Sinisa Ubiparipovic has quietly become the driving force behind the reserves good form.

Off Target

New England: Nine games! We could pick any number of things to talk about here, but four goals in nine games should give you some idea where we'll head. The front line has been atrocious. They're young and show promise for the future, but at this point the future needs to come sooner rather than later. Flashes of good play have been wiped out by long spells of ineffective play, and the lack of goal scoring is putting loads of pressure on the Revolution back four.

Red Bulls: The Red Bulls seem to fix one problem a game without actually putting together a complete package. For several games they could not keep possession.  Last week versus the Columbus Crew they pulled back and reestablished their possession dominance but failed to finish. With the addition of several on-fire reserves, all that nice build up passing might lead to some goals.

Tactics

New England: I will assume that Steve Nicol has spent long stretches of training trying to get these players more adept and playing the ball along the ground. For year, New England kept the ball as well as any team in the league out of their 3-5-2 set, but the 4-4-2 that has been deployed over the last couple of seasons has not been as useful. The back four is fairly stable, but the midfield and forwards could face a shake-up soon if things don't get turned around.

Red Bulls: The success of the reserves proves just how much everyone at NYRB has bought into Backe’s flat 4-4-2.  The only real problem for Backe is figuring out which combination of midfielders will execute that system the best.  Rising star Irving Garcia will not start after playing midweek in the Open Cup victory, but he was substituted and could be given his league debut at right midfield at some point on Saturday.  With Carl Robinson out for six weeks and Joel Lindpere still recovering from injury, Backe is lucky to have Tony Tchani and Ubiparipovic playing so well.  It might be time to give Greg Sutton his shot at the starting goalkeeper job, but it’s not clear whether Backe has reached that point yet.

Intangibles

New England: Shalrie Joseph should be on the pitch, and that alone is enough to bring about some hope. He's the leader of the Revs on the field and without his they have looked lost at times. With Joseph, the defense becomes harder to break down and the Revs have a goal scoring threat that they can push up front late in games if need be.

Red Bulls:  John Wolyniec has played himself into starting contention with four goals in his last two Open Cup games.  His physical style of play and chemistry with Juan Pablo Angel might provide the partnership the captain needs to break out.  Or maybe the Silver Fox will just do all the scoring for him.

Outcome

New England: Joseph being back may be enough to lift the team to a win at home against a foe they know very well. New England Revolution 1-0 New York Red Bulls.

Red Bulls:  2-1 Red Bulls.  The Red Bulls seem to have figured out what their problems were.  If Backe can figure out how to integrate his struggling starters with his high-flying reserves the team should find their wings.

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