The Portland Timbers take on their second to last Eastern Conference opponent of the season tomorrow as the hottest team in the league, the New York Red Bulls, come to town. The Red Bulls may no longer have the incomparable Thierry Henry in the side, but under new head coach Jesse Marsch, the side are still formidable.
To get the low-down on the Timbers' opponents we reached out to our SB Nation sister site, Once a Metro, and their editor, Jason Iapicco, answered.
With a packed schedule, but playoffs able to be guaranteed with three points, how will the Red Bulls approach this one? Will Marsch and company be going for all three points in Portland or looking to get some rest before returning home for some more Eastern Conference action?
They'll be going for all three. While the playoffs are more like a formality at this point, we have home field advantage and the Shield to play for. If the team could take 3 points in Portland, it would help greatly in the standings and in the tiebreakers.
You won't see a full lineup because of McCarty and Lade being suspended (more on that in #2). Most likely the rest of the lineup will be unchanged, but a spot start for Gonzalo Veron or Shaun Wright-Phillips isn't out of the question. Our two summer signings haven't seen much playing time as Marsch has stuck with the hot hand. This might be a good time to give another starter or two a night off and get them some time in the field.
Dax McCarthy and Connor Lade will both be out for this one after picking up yellow cards on Wednesday. Who else could be missing in this one and who should we expect to come in for them?
McCarty will probably be swapped for Sean Davis. Davis is a rookie who has spent time with NYRB II (the USL side) and has shown good improvement with the side. He's started in the past as a defensive midfielder for Marsch so it's a logical move that keeps other pieces in their spot.
Lade is different as the only natural right back the team has is Chris Duvall who is out until sometime in October. Anthony Wallace is probably the guy to take his spot as he fits the mold of a young guy who can run all day and join the attack, something needed in the Red Bulls' system. Sal Zizzo can also fill in at rigt back as he has in substitute appearances at times this year. Plus the whole revenge factor with Portland can be motivating.
I mentioned Veron and Shaun Wright-Phillips possibly starting. If Wright-Phillips starts, it'll probably be at right back as it has been reported he can play there. It would solve not taking anyone off. Veron, if he starts would be better giving Mike Grella a spell. He's a natural winger and has good on the ball skills that can help break down the defense.
After years of being Thierry Henry and ten other guys on the pitch, the Red Bulls now have a very different look; how has the team adjusted to compensate for losing Henry to retirement and are there any new, big names that fans should look out for since the last time the Red Bulls faced the Timbers?
The way this team has played you would never know that Thierry Henry was the focal point last year. It's been a pretty dramatic shift to a whole team mentality and the players took to it like fish to water. The team has also gotten younger which has allowed it to run a high pressure system and you'll see the central defenders around midfield or even higher up at times.
As for big names, Sacha Kljestan is of course one of them. The (former?) US International has turned into a good attacking midfielder this hear. Bradley Wright-Phillips, while not near 27 goals from last year has been more of a playmaker and is over 20 combined goals and assists on the year. Matt Miazga is the name on defense fans will want to learn if they haven't yet. The youngster was in the US U-20 side that made the World Cup this year and will be in the U-23 side looking to qualify for the Olympics.
Predicted Lineup: Robles; Lawrence, Miazga, Perrinelle, Wallace; Davis, Felipe; Sam, Kljestan, Veron; Bradley Wright-Phillips
The lineup won't differ in terms of skill set than we usually see. The Red Bulls' are kind of embracing the "cogs in a machine" mentality and want their players to slot in without having to change much in terms of tactics.
We also answered three questions for Jason, so make sure to check them out over at Once a Metro. Look for a direct link in the comments.