Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Red Bulls Preview: Home Again, Finally!

For Red Bulls fans, it's been a long long time between league home games.  Apart from the meaningless friendly against Brazil's Cruzeiro, the Pride of the Passaic have not set foot on the Red Bull Arena pitch in over a month, when they defeated Chivas USA 1-0 on Seth Stammler's strike.  Remember that?  I think I do, but it sure seems like it happened ages ago.

In the meantime we've all been preoccupied with the World Cup, first as we followed the fortunes of the US Men's National Team and more recently through some incredible knockout stage matches (Ghana vs. Uruguay will live long in the memory for me).  With Spain's victory today over Germany setting up a final between two countries that have never won the tournament, we are bound to see some history made on Sunday when La Furia Roja takes on the Oranje, though I must admit I would have preferred to see Germany's team game in the final over David Villa's individual brilliance (curse you, Paul the Octopus).  In any case, for those of us passionate about MLS it's just about time to say goodbye to South Africa and its godforsaken vuvuzelas and get back to the business end of our domestic season.

Homebrew Tim and his wife really took one for the team when they traveled out to Pennsylvania to see the Red Bulls defeated by eleven McDonald's employees in the US Open Cup.  I'll admit to being as shocked as anyone.  As I followed the game online I kept waiting for that elusive Red Bulls goal to go in, but it never came.  A well earned road draw last Saturday in Colorado, not exactly a happy hunting ground for RBNY, did a bit to take the edge off the US Open Cup defeat.  Now, with Juan Pablo Angel emerging from his early season struggles and several other players getting closer to returning to fitness, things are setting up very nicely for the second part of the MLS season.  The first order of business - and a crucial one given the Red Bulls' fairly brutal stretch of away games on the horizon - is to beat old nemesis DC United on Saturday evening in Harrison.

DC have been playing more respectably in recent matches after an absolutely brutal start that had United fans calling for Curt Onalfo's head on a platter.  DC academy product Andy Najar scored in Saturday's 1-1 draw with San Jose out in California and looks to be one of the league's brighter young prospects.   Clyde Simms' new midfield partner Branko Boskovic will not be available until after July 15 and will therefore not feature in this match (neither will the Red Bulls' "player who shall not be named" of course), but the Black and Red still have some danger men on the pitch who can cause the Red Bulls problems, including Santino Quaranta and Chris Pontius.

As was the case with the Red Bulls last season, DC United has failed to get much of anything from its South and Central American signings.  Highly touted Salvadoran winger Cristian Castillo was so disappointing, in fact, that his loan agreement has been terminated.  Bolivian center back Juan Manuel Peña has struggled as well, with his attempted clearance in last week's game accounting for San Jose's lone goal.  In goal, Troy Perkins seems to have reclaimed his first choice status after losing it to Bill Hamid following the DC United-RBNY game earlier this season at RFK Stadium. 

All things being equal, this is a game you would expect the Red Bulls to win, given the two teams' relative positions in the Eastern Division standings.  But as anyone who has followed this rivalry knows, it's never quite as simple as it seems.  DC United fans loved to taunt Red Bulls fans with "RFK North" jibes when the MetroStars/Red Bulls played at the Swamp.  I'm sure they'd like nothing more than to open their account at the new stadium with a positive result.  Hopefully Hans Backe will have his team fired up and ready in front of what should be a respectable home crowd.  I'll be bringing my wife to her first game of the season and her first Red Bulls game in quite some time.  If it means anything (probably not), she was also present at our 4-0 drubbing of Houston Dynamo in 2008.  Let's hope for more of the same.

One final note.  As many of you know I also contribute to the outstanding All Things Footy soccer blog.  Starting this week, fellow New Yorker and Red Bulls fan Ben Schneider and I will kick off a new RBNY-focused podcast on ATF called Talking Bull.  Our intention will be to offer something a little different from what Mark Fishkin, Dave Martinez and Nat Baker have provided with their excellent Seeing Red! podcast.  For a long long time there had been a lack of good audio (and written) content concerning the Red Bulls.  Now, with the new stadium, a huge signing on the horizon and a host of blogs covering the team, we feel there is room for another voice or two.  We'll be recording our first episode tomorrow, and if all goes well we hope to have it up on ATF for your listening pleasure by Friday and make it a weekly show thereafter.
blog comments powered by Disqus