Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Matchday @Red Bull Arena: Red Bulls vs. Real Salt Lake

The Return of Rodgers Has Provided a Spark
The Red Bulls hope to take another positive step toward an MLS playoff berth when they host Real Salt Lake this evening at Red Bull Arena (8PM kickoff on MSG Plus). Coming off a sorely needed away win in Dallas, where they managed without the services of Thierry Henry, Jan Gunnar Solli and Rafa Marquez, RBNY will be hoping toy build positive momentum coming down the home stretch in the Eastern Conference.

Scoreboard watching is, of course, inevitable at this point in the season, but hopefully the players can focus on the task at hand - beating a very formidable RSL team - and let the other results take care of themselves. Somewhere around 45-46 points should guarantee New York a playoff spot, and there is still plenty of climbing left to do before they reach that point. No time to look down or up. Just climb.

The only major absence for the Red Bulls tonight will be left back Roy Miller, who has still not resumed full training. But for the first time in weeks, perhaps months, Hans Backe can call on a full complement of midfielders and strikers, including Thierry Henry, whose Achilles problem should not keep him out of tonight's fixture or Saturday's home match against Portland. Luke Rodgers, who was subbed at halftime in Dallas, should start in favor of Juan Agudelo. Real Salt Lake will be without influential midfielder Kyle Beckerman and of course long term injury victim Javier Morales.

Speaking of Rodgers, he was the guest on yesterday's edition on the MLS Extra Time podcast. If you have time to give it a listen before tonight's match, you can hear Luke talk about rehabilitation from his foot injury, his goal in Dallas and what he likes to read in his spare time. As for Agudelo, who has enjoyed two sharp performances in a row, he may have former Red Bull Jozy Altidore and teammate Tim Ream to thank. The New York Post's Brian Lewis reports that both players were instrumental in encouraging Agudelo to bring the same intensity to Red Bulls training that he has brought to US Men's National Team camps.

No predictions for this one. A draw is always a safe bet for the Red Bulls, but let's hope that they have finally pulled themselves out of their season long funk and can do better this evening. We will have a full report with our usual video antics either tomorrow or the next day.

For now, let's forget our disappointments and gripes, get behind the boys tonight and drive them on to victory. COYRB!
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