Saturday, October 6, 2012

Matchday @ Red Bull Arena: Red Bulls v. Chicago Fire

A Raucous Red Bull Arena Crowd Will Hope New York Douses the Fire

Good morning Red Bulls fans! We are in the thick of the Eastern playoff race with New York and Chicago tied on points, and only a thin goal differential enabling New York to hold the #2 spot over the third-place Fire. Today's MASSIVE 6-pointer (3:30pm ET, NBC, match notes can be found here) will be one for the ages with RBNY looking to clinch a playoff spot.

The season series is tied with Chicago dismantling the Red Bulls 3-1 back in June and the Red Bulls taking the rematch 1-0 on Henry's Wonder goal in the 1:00 pm July weekday match that sealed Chris Heck's fate. History is not on the Red Bulls side as they are 12-21-9 all-time against Chicago. On the other hand, the Fire have never beaten the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, and they'll be playing their third game (1-2) in a little over a week.

Despite the front office turmoil, The Red Bulls should be on a high after the 4-1 destructification of Toronto on the back of another epic Henry performance: 3 assists and 1 goal. Backe has stated that he'll use the same lineup, which should please the fans. One question mark is how keeper Luis Robles will perform under a stronger challenge than TFC gave him. See what the man himself thinks here.

Listening to Fire assistant coach Mike Matkovich, the Fire will bring a defensive mindset and look for counterattack opportunities--which we know the Red Bulls are vulnerable to. Rolfe, Oduro and Nyarko give Chicago the speed and firepower to exploit the Red Bulls' always suspect back line.

The question for Red Bulls fans is, will the squad play like the #2 team in the East, or like a pile of Number Two? And, what bizarre pink breast cancer awareness kits both teams will be sporting? Here's what the Viper's Nest Crew has to say:

Who Shot Sam (aka Matt Conroy) sees a win:
After another slow start at home, we smoked TFC thanks to some Henry brilliance. Chicago is reeling a bit after a few bad results, including a home loss to Philly in a midweek game. Henry is more or less unstoppable at the moment, but we will probably be without Lloyd Sam, who was great against Toronto. Games against the Fire are almost always tight and low-scoring. I'll say 2-0 Red Bulls. Henry with another, and Cooper scores again.
Dr. K shows his usual, unbridled optimism:
It should be a beautiful afternoon at Riverbend and given the holiday weekend, should be a good crowd to inspire the Bulls to triumph. Henry is in terrific form and that will mean headaches and heartaches for the unfortunate souls who have to schlep back to Second City.  Hattrick for Henry and a header for Cahill.  4-1 NY.

Surprisingly, I'm on board with the positive outlook. New York will miss Lloyd Sam on the right, but I think that the sheer force of Henry's willpower will get us a W tonight, if only so he can rest the final two matches. I'm calling it 2-1 for RBNY. Following an early, horrible giveaway goal, the Bulls will bounce back with a set piece equalizer and an Henry winner off the right post.

Big Viper has a more measured view.
With Chicago reeling from a home loss to one of the worst teams in the league (Philth-adelphia) the conditions are right for them to bounce right back with a road victory at Red Bull Arena.  Chicago isn't Toronto, and all this Soler being fired crap this week will weight heavily on Clever Hans and the players themselves.  Still, the Red Bulls will be playing at home and in front of a national tv audience, on NBC proper.  I'll call this one a 2-2 draw, with Cooper & Henry getting our goals and Rolfe getting both for Chicago.
Hopefully, the fans will be out in force they way they were for the TFC game, and 23,000 or so folks will be going home happy and looking forward to the playoffs. LET'S GO RED BULLS!

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