Thursday, September 16, 2010

Matchday @Frisco: FC Dallas vs Red Bulls

Above image courtesy of Jarrett Campbell

Good Afternoon! The Red Bulls are back in action today, this time @Pizza Hut Park, in Frisco, TX. They'll be taking on a very hot FC Dallas team (9:00pm ET, MSG) and will look to come away from the game with something. In MLS action this season, Dallas has only lost once @Pizza Hut Park (against Los Angeles) and, in fact, are sporting a 14 game unbeaten streak. If Dallas wins today, they would be level on points with RSL for that all important 2nd place in the Western Conference and would be only 3 points behind LA for the top spot.

The 2nd place Red Bulls (Eastern Conference), on the other hand, are currently 12 points clear of 3rd place Toronto and are, undoubtedly, already looking towards kicking some ass in the playoffs. RBNY is coming off, arguably, its best performance of the year, against Colorado, and will be looking to make a statement against the hottest team in the league. A tough away game, against The Galaxy, awaits them next weekend, so a result against Dallas would be appreciated. With all that in mind, let's get to some predictions.

Matt Conroy (aka Who Shot Sam) has this for us:
Everything is looking up for the Red Bulls at the moment. The teams behind us in the Eastern Conference standings have faded into mediocrity, our system and squad seem to be coming together at the right moment, and we are relatively free of major injuries (knock on wood). We've even been adding players to help for the playoff run. Dallas, meanwhile, has been unbelievably hard to beat this season, but they have also drawn more games than they've won. While they have some very dangerous players, I've had a nagging sense all season that they have been playing a little bit over their heads and are a tad overrated because they simply don't lose much.

We are one of only two teams to hand FCD a loss this season, albeit fortunately. Pizza Hut Park is also one of the worst home field advantages in MLS. Hell, there could be more Rafa Marquez fans in attendance than FC Dallas fans. It's also a night game in September, not a mid-day game in July, so the heat should not be as much of a factor. Taking all this into account, I am going to predict a hard-fought 2-1 Red Bulls victory. Henry scores again, and Tony Tchani scores the other, while Ferreira gets on the scoresheet for Dallas.
I'm having a bit of trouble with a prediction for this one. Is Rafa Marquez recovered from the knock he took this past weekend? Will new Creative Midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy be in the lineup? Will our defense wilt in the Dallas heat? I'm going to predict a tie here. I'm hoping the Red Bulls can get out of Dodge (I mean, Frisco) with a point. Final score: FC Dallas 1, Red Bulls 1.

Homebrew Tim has this for us:
Another tough challenge tonight to test how much progress the Red Bulls have really made. FC Dallas have not lost in 14 games, and have won their last 6 at home--5 of those 6 by shutout. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, at the risk of overstating the current meme, are gelling at the right time. But, just to make this game tricky to call, the key ingredient in our team's new-found success, Rafa Marquez, is healing up from a minor ankle sprain and may not be at 100% tonight. Also unknown, is how our new play-maker Mehdi Ballouchy is fitting in with just one or two training sessions under his belt.

OK, all of that said, assuming Rafa is fit enough to play solidly tonight, we are just too tough to beat right now; they've got me feeling optimistic. I see us putting an end to all of Dallas' streaks tonight and handily, as the Red Bulls win 3-1 and keep the pressure on the East-leading Columbus Crew. Henry, Richards, and Angel, with at least one assist from Ballouchy in that mix.
As of this posting, You Suck Corrales is missing in action, so no prediction from him for this one. Look for our award winning analysis of this one tomorrow. Viper Out!
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