Thursday, November 4, 2010

Matchday @Red Bull Arena: Red Bulls vs Earthquakes

Above picture courtesy of Chamber Images

Good afternoon! It's not a nice one here in RBNY land, as the chance of rain is 100% all day. But nevermind that! The Red Bulls are 90 minutes away from an Eastern Conference Final. At least a tie today, against the San Jose Earthquakes (8pm, ESPN2), will get them there, but there's no reason to think, after the many chances our team had @Buckshaw Stadium last Saturday, that today's result will be anything less than a massive RBNY victory.

This is the biggest game of this season and might even be the biggest game in club history. An Eastern Conference Final berth is there for the taking, but don't let yourselves think that the Earthquakes are coming here to lay down and be trampled by a Red Bulls onslaught. On the contrary! They're confident they can get it done @The Cathedral of Football.

The Quakes were the second best road team in MLS, taking 22 points from road matches this season. Golden Boot winner Chris "Wondo" Wondolowski will look to get his playoff tally started and the ever dangerous Geovanni can change the game at any time. Quakes goalkeeper John Busch was a monster in goal on Saturday, making many superb saves and keeping his team in it. Really, if it wasn't for Busch, the Red Bulls would not be clinging to a 1-0 first-leg lead. It would have been 5 (or more) to RBNY.

The Red Bulls, although confident, are hurting, with many players out (or battling through injuries) recently. Salou, Tchani and Lindpere should all feature but doubts remains over Thierry Henry's participation in this one. This might mean that 17 year old Juan Agudelo, who was great in this past Saturday's match, might get another start today. Juan Pablo Angel will look to break out of his Red Bull Arena scoring slump, as he hasn't scored at home since that magical free-kick goal, against Houston, way back on June 2nd. It's time for him to break out today, for a Red Bulls team that's not expected to sit back and hold on to their slim goal margin. With all that in mind, let's get to some predictions!

Matt Conroy (aka Who Shot Sam) has this for us:
I predicted a first leg 1-1 game and we should have ended up winning 3-0. I hope that does not come back to bite us in the second leg. Only Jon Busch has kept San Jose in this series, because Wondo has been AWOL (hopefully that will continue). Still, all year long we have made it much harder than it should be at home. Nearly every game has been tight. Also, conditions are expected to be poor, with rain in the forecast. So I will go for another 1-1, with the Red Bulls squeaking by on aggregate goals. Salou scores for us. Wondo gets one for San Jose to make it interesting.
I'm going to be a bit more confident than Matt (although I'll gladly take a tie) and predict a big Red Bulls victory. The supporters @The Cathedral of Football are going to will this team to victory today. I'll say that Juan Pablo breaks out of his RBA slump, Dan get another and, why not, the "Estonian Beast" Joel Lindpere gets one also. Final score: Red Bulls 3, San Jose 0.

Homebrew Tim has this for us:
San Jose is not as complete a team as the Red Bulls, and it showed last week. Without some great stops from 'quakes keeper, Jon Busch, tonight's second leg would be little more than a formality. As things stand, we take our 1-0 lead into tonight's match. Normally, I'd say that there is no way we lose this match (and I still don't think we will), but I am concerned with the way weather might affect our style of play. A wet pitch is going to affect our ability to take advantage of our speed. Ball control players like Tchani and Marquez are going to be key for us in the middle tonight. A physical 1-1 draw will see the Red Bulls advance to the Conference finals next week. A lumbering, crashing, Woly-esque effort from Salou will be enough to see us through.
No prediction from You Suck Corrales, as of yet, but I'm betting he's thinking 4-0 to the Red Bulls. Look for our Award Winning coverage of this one in the next few days. See you tonight!
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