Saturday, July 13, 2013

Matchday @ Red Bull Arena: Red Bulls v Impact

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Well, Red Bull fans, this week the Twitterverse and Blogosphere exploded with chatter at a level not seen since last year's snow bowl. There was violent arguing, hurled insults, pleas for calm, ridiculous threats, satirical barbs, and certainly no shortage of strong opinions. What was the cause of all this furor? Why, of course, it's today's MASSIVE six-pointer against the Montreal Impact!

The big game (7:00pm ET, MSG, match notes can be found here) comes hot on the heels of one of RBNY's most dismal performances in recent memory. The Independence Day loss to Colorado featured what appeared to be 11 guys who met when Mike Petke picked them up in his Ranchero outside Home Depot earlier in the day. Aside from some decent defensive shape in the first half, the Red Bulls were an embarrassment, barely able to string two passes together and breaking down continuously on defense.

Montreal, on the other hand, sits atop the Eastern Conference--with two games still in hand over the Red Bulls. One reason why is the team's offensive production. Montreal is second in league in scoring with 31 goals. Leading this charge is the prolific Marco Di Vaio, who has 11 of the 31. This isn't a fluke. The Impact is scoring because they are creating chances.Though they only tied Chivas 1-1 last week, they launched 18 shots, 8 of them on goal. In contrast, the Red Bulls produced a meager 7 shots against Colorado, 2 of them blocked and only 1 on target.
Speaking of Di Vaio, Red Bull fans not aware of the danger he presents certainly learned this fact in the May 8 match at Red Bull Arena when he nearly engineered a miracle draw for the Impact with a goal in injury time and one that barely missed. Remember that this was in just 24 minutes of substitution play. Expect him to play the full 90 tonight. You know what? I just remembered something else that had Red Bull fans riled up. Ibrahim Sekagya joined the team! There was some delay in signing due to confusion about his age, but the Red Bulls were able to confirm that he is over 30, and pen was put to paper. The 6'1 Ugandan could see the field alongside Olave and Holgersson to form an intimidating back line. The question is, will it still be as porous? Let's see what the "experts" have to say about this clash: Matt Conroy (aka Who Shot Sam) sez:
Montreal is a pretty high scoring team but can also leak goals. I see a pretty free flowing game. 2-2 draw with the Red Bulls back line getting abused by Marco Di Vaio. Sekagya will be starting on place of Holgersson by next week.
The Big Viper is less sanguine about the Red Bulls' chances:
I'm not feeling confident (surprise!) after our team looking like total crap the last game. And up against one of the best teams in the League right now, with a deadly forward like DiVaio. I'm calling this one a Red Bulls loss, say 0-1.
Wow. Now I'm just about convinced that one of these guys is TheRedBullsOptimist. Thinking about the Colorado game makes me physically ill. I don't expect to see Barcelona out there, but these are supposed to be professionals and they really looked like had no idea what sport was being played. That's why I'm calling a 0-2... wait, an 0-3 loss. See you tonight!!!

LATE UPDATE: Sanna Nyassi--a known Red Bull killer--has been suspended by MLS for an act of simulation on July 7. In response to this good news, I'm revising my prediction to a 0-2 loss.

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