Energy drinks can pick you up and they usually do, but a crash always follows. New York started 1-6-0 before their Red Bull kicked in and oh my did it kick. Just three points in seven matches but then 16 points in the next seven going 5-1-1 in that stretch. Nothing changed in formations but everything clicked.
In the first seven matches, Bradley Wright-Phillips had zero goals. In the next seven, eight goals and one assist. Safe to say, how BWP goes, the Red Bulls go. Five of those are from open play with three from set pieces; headers, left and right foot, he’s scored pretty much every way possible. Good news is that he isn’t great at aerial duels, bad news is he doesn’t need to win those to score. There is not one major way they find BWP but having him chase through balls is the most likely scenario. If Evans and Marshall prevent BWP from getting on the ball, it’ll suffocate NYRB’s ability to create. Wright-Phillips finishing and ability to stretch a defense is what creates space underneath for long shots from the center trio of Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan and Felipe.
New York plays in a 4-5-1 in defense but in the attack Mike Grella and Lloyd Sam will push up to make it a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. Grella and Sam’s tendency to push up in the attack and make diagonal runs to support BWP means that the trio of Dax, Kljestan and Felipe maintain the structure of the side, passing goes through one of the three to start and facilitate attacks. All three will look to shoot from 25-30 yards is the shot is there or if the pass is too risky. They have no fear in tackling and taking out a player. All three of them play fairly similar to Alonso but each with a little different flair than Honey Badger. Defensively they’ll push up and try to force a turnover and push the attack immediately. They won’t high press for 90 minutes but the midfield will look to prevent Evans/Marshall from connecting with Friberg and Alonso and force a long ball over the top for Aurelien Collin to handle.
Seattle has conceded only 15 goals, making them the third best defense in MLS and four of those are from PKs. New York meanwhile has given up 20, almost all from open play or counter attacks. On the other side of the ball, Seattle only has 13 goals and is second worst in the league. Red Bulls have 24 for a third best in the league rating though seven of those came from a massive blowout against New York City FC. In New York’s last three matches they have won all three by a combined score of 11-0. It is safe to say, they’ll be hard to break through. What is the good news though? In non-shutouts, 10 of the 14 matches, only twice have they not given up multiple goals and in one of those, they Orlando went down a man as the game was heating up in the final minutes. Seattle’s offense has had problems but with a break and confidence post DC United, they should be able to do something. The counter attack will be Seattle’s friend for sure against the possession based side but with Jordan Morris and Aaron Kovar rested and figuring this thing called MLS out, the Sounders should find goals in hostile New Jersey. They’ll be missing Kemar Lawrence and potentially Damien Perrinelle from the defensively group. Collin has a tendency to see red against Seattle as well. Morris will have plenty of opportunities to get Collin to receive marching orders and if it happens all the easier it gets.
Shutting down BWP is the only key to the match that matters. If they do it, they’ll at a minimum get a draw if not all three points. On paper he should be easier to shut down than Kei Kamara but he’s hot with five goals and an assist in his last two starts. Evans and Marshall figure this thing out and without recent go to sub Gonzalo Veron, should be able to hold onto a late lead with only Anatole Abang subbing on to help BWP find something late. Sounders win 2-1, giving up a set piece goal in-between their goals. It’ll be hard fought, it will not end with 22 men on the field, and it’ll be a bit of a shock but the Rave Green will take three points from New Jersey because that backline knows how to shutdown talented strikers.
Red Bulls: Robles, Zizzo, Zubar, Collin, Lade, Felipe, McCarty, Sam, Kljestan, Grella, Wright-Phillips
Sounders: Frei, Mears, Evans, Marshall, J.Jones; Alonso, Friberg, Ivanschitz; Kovar, Gomez, Morris