Saturday, October 30, 2010

Matchday @San Jose: Earthquakes vs Red Bulls

Above image courtesy of BrokeSphere

Good Morning! The road to MLS Cup begins today for the Red Bulls, as they travel to cozy/little Buck Shaw Stadium, in beautiful San Jose, CA, for the first game of their Eastern Conference semi-final series against the Earthquakes (10pm ET, Telefutura, MSG+2 & MSG). The two sides split their regular season meetings, with the Quakes handing NY a 4-0 Buck Shaw Beatdown back in May and the Red Bulls taking care of business (2-0) @The Cathedral of Football back in August.

While the Earthquakes finished the regular season with 46 points, only 5 points back of RBNY, they finished 6th in the Western Conference and were the final team to lock up a playoff spot. Quakes forward Chris Wondolowski finished with 18 goals and stole the golden boot, from LA's Edson Buddle, on the final week of the season. With a Thursday, November 4th second-leg @Red Bull Arena looming, the Quakes will be looking to, once again, stuff RBNY @Buck Shaw and bring a multi-goal cushion east.

The Red Bulls, on the other hand, are in the midst of a remarkable turn-around but are also in a world of hurt (their Physio must be earning much overtime). Three key players have been ruled out this one because of injury (including TH14) and "The Estonian Beast" Joel Lindpere will, probably, not be at 100%. Even so, Mr. Backe has promised to go all-out for the win and 17 yr old Juan Agudelo may very well get his first MLS start if the Swede decides to go with a 4-4-2. The Red Bulls will look for unsettled forward Juan Pablo Angel to break out of his personal drought. No better time to do that than right now, JPA!

With all of the above in mind, let's get to some predictions:

Matt Conroy (aka Who Shot Sam) has this for us:
The Red Bulls are without Thierry Henry, Salou Ibrahim and Tony Tchani going into this game, and I've seen a lot of prognosticators (I'm looking at you, Alexi Lalas and Simon Borg) predicting a San Jose victory. If you look back on our last game in San Jose that may seem like a reasonable conclusion, but let's remember that Luke Sassano was sent off very early in that match for a boneheaded challenge and subsequently disappeared into Mr. Backe's doghouse, never to be seen again.

The Red Bulls also did not yet have Rafa Marquez in midfield at that time. I like the fact that Backe is open to the idea of starting Juan Agudelo, who has looked sharp in his few brief appearances this season. I also like the fact that after Chris Wondolowski's 18 goals the Quakes have very little in the way of scoring (with their second leading scorers tied on just 3 goals).

So if the Red Bulls can shut down Wondo they have a good chance to win here. Still it's hard to predict a road victory with several players missing, so I will go for a 1-1 draw with goals from Wondolowski and Lindpere.
While I would be absolutely over the moon with a Red Bulls victory (and would be absolutely gutted with a Red Bulls loss), I will venture to say that we can get tie out West. We can - but we probably won't. Being the realistic/pessimistic, long suffering MetroBulls fan that I am, a 1-0 RBNY loss will be my prediction today. Not a bad result, really, if we can get it. The Red Bulls can then take care of business @Red Bull Arena next Thursday. Now, if the score gets a bit out of hand... But let's not even assume that's possible.

Homebrew Tim has this for us:
Coach Backe says he's going for the win in San Jose on Saturday, and that's what I like to hear. Acknowledging that the team "looked like statues" when playing withdrawn on the road, he plans to go out with the same attacking style he employs at home. If the choice is between Ballouchy as a withdrawn forward in the "4-4-1-1," or rookie and USMNT U-20 standout, Juan Agudelo in a 4-4-2, I'm hoping to see the kid, and the 4-4-2, to be honest.

Attacking is well and good, but the Red Bulls are also going to have to find a way to stop the service into San Jose's Golden Boot winner, Chris Wondolowski. He has scored the Earthquakes last 10 goals. With Rafa Marquez, Rookie of the Year shortlister, Tim Ream, and Comeback Player of the Year candidate, Chris Albright, we are as well equipped as any MLS side to reign in San Jose's one-trick pony attack.

I Believe That We Will Win. The pieces are in place to beat a team that isn't as complete as us. I like Richards and Angel to find the back of the net, and we will return home with a 2-1 lead in our semi-final round. I hope my fellow Viper's Nest members have a blast in San Jose; I can't wait to see our Award-Winning* drunken analysis from California.
Last, but certainly not least, the great You Suck Corrales has this for us:
While I am raring to go and support in San Jose I must say that I have to predict a loss. This is the Viper's Nest crew's 3rd massive west coast road trip in 3 years. After the final in 2008 and opening day in Seattle in 2009. we are a combined 1 goal for 6 against on those trips. So these trips ususally don't have happy endings for us.

I am hoping for a one goal loss so that we are still alive for the return leg at the Cathedral. With Henry, Tchani, and Salou all not travelling we will see if we actually do have some depth. One can only hope. And I am begging you not to pray for world peace, an end to famine, or the health of your loved ones. I implore you to pray for Juan Agudelo. Evidently, he's going to play a role here. I am already begging God to allow him to score! A win would be incredible, a draw just fine. However, I am saying the final score San Jose 2---New York Red Bulls---1. It will be a loss but we will be alive to fight another day.
Alrighty then! Please note that myself and the great You Suck Corrales (plus especial guest Alex) will be @Buck Shaw supporting the Red Bulls. Please look for our Award-Winning* drunken analysis by Tuesday. Oh, and a shout-out will be in order for the person who can correctly points out all the English Football-related jargon I used in this post. Ha, ha! Viper Out!
blog comments powered by Disqus