Orlando City is off to a pretty decent start to the 2016 MLS season, all things considered. For a second-year club, a 2-1-3 start is nothing to sneeze at, even if a few questionable officiating decisions have kept that record from being a little better.
Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls have had a nightmare start to their 2016 season, with just one win in the first seven matches for the 2015 Supporters' Shield winners. This start by Jesse Marsch's club has raised eyebrows all over Major League Soccer. To me, that's what is so terrifying about this fixture, and playing the Red Bulls twice in a three-week span -- the team is bound to get its act together at some point. With any luck, it'll take a few more weeks, but the last two matches have shown us that luck isn't something we can count on.
Here to help us scout the Red Bulls is Pat Glodkowski from SB Nation's NYRB blog, Once a Metro. Pat gave us the inside scoop on what's been going on in the greater Harrison, NJ, area this season.
It's been awhile since these teams have met. We've obviously heard of Matt Miazga going to Chelsea, but who are the other main departures and who are the new arrivals for this season that Orlando City fans should be aware of and how have those comings/goings impacted NYRB?
Pat Glodkowski: Interestingly enough, aside from Matt Miazga, there has not been a massive overhaul this year as has been common in the club's history. Some lesser-used players like Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Anthony Wallace were waived, so Miazga seems to stand out as our biggest loss. One of the better gains we have made this season was Gideon Baah. The defender has Champions League experience, and looked to be a solid replacement for Miazga, as well as filling in for Damien Perrinelle, since his injury in the post-season last year. Our midfield remains intact from last season, especially since Gonzalo Veron, who everyone hoped would make a massive impact given this season would be his first full one at RBNY, has been left out of the lineup due to injury. So, generally the only thing Orlando City fans would want to be aware of is if Jesse Marsch decides to change the lineup once again.
Cyle Larin has scored seven goals in three visits to the New York metro area. How do you think the Red Bulls will try to defend him and do you think they'll keep him off the score sheet?
PG: Cyle Larin is our absolute nightmare. People still shake from that chilling 5-2 victory Orlando found at Red Bull Arena last season. Based on our shambolic defending as of late, I fear it will be a repeat this season. Not to say I'm convinced that this game will be a loss for us once again, because this bad streak for us has to end eventually (right? RIGHT???), but I think that a fully fit Larin will find his way past keeper Luis Robles.
No one knows better than you about the slow start the Red Bulls have had this season and the lack of scoring has been downright shocking. Who or what is most responsible in your view and how does a team with this much skill get shut out five times in seven games?
PG: I was hoping that after implying in the first response that I'm fuming about the slow start, I would avoid having to explicitly comment on it. I pity you for the mini-rant you're about to get and urge you to avoid the forums of MetroFanatic. I want to say that after the most successful regular season of our club's history, we wouldn't have let ourselves begin slowly. However, it looks to be just that.
As you mentioned, we've been shut out in five games, which is lamentable, to say the least, and absolutely depressing on the opposite end of the spectrum. Part of it comes from suffering key injuries from the likes of Ronald Zubar, Damien Perinelle, and Gideon Baah, all of whom are key center backs. Even our newest South American pickup, Gonzalo Veron, has not featured much despite a great preseason, due to injury. I also want to say that it's just the Metro Gods playing games with us, as they have done for 20 years now, afflicting us with the worst luck possible. I want to say it is just that MLS is such an unpredictable league, that we will go on without a loss for the rest of the season, but I'm not so sure about any of that.
What I do know is that we often out-possess, out-pass, and out-shoot our opponents, but Providence does not gift us with out-scoring our opponents. Our star striker, Bradley Wright-Phillips, is to blame, as the striker does not even have a goal registered for the team, not to mention, missing yet another penalty. It is frustrating to see our top man struggle so much, and thereby reflecting on our team. Moreover, the leadership seems to just not be there. Kljestan, Dax, and Robles, who we look to to lead our team on the field, have not activated their capabilities this season, and it shows in the poor performance on the field.
On the bench, Marsch seems to struggle to motivate our boys to lift their heads and play like their livelihoods depend on it. I wish to see a little more of the fire Mike Petke showed in the halftime interview when the team was tied 0-0 with Toronto FC. Problem is, he truly believes in his system, and he just sees the bad form coming from bad luck, and the bad luck coming from a source he can't deal with. A fire needs to be lit under this team to wake some key players up.
What is your anticipated starting XI, key injuries/suspensions, and final score prediction for Sunday?
PG: I imagine our lineup will include: (GK): Luis Robles, (DEF): Kemar Lawrence (LB), Karl Ouimette (CB), Ronald Zubar (CB), Chris Duval (RB), (MID): Dax McCarty (CDM), Felipe (CDM), Mike Grella (LM), Sacha Kljestan (CAM), Lloyd Sam (RM), (ATT): Bradley Wright-Phillips.
A couple notes on this: Chris Duval may still be being eased into the squad, and we may see either Connor Lade or Sal Zizzo fill the spot. The midfield has been tinkered with all season, as Sean Davis, Alex Muyl, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Tyler Adams have all featured there, and could be rotated in as Marsch continues to find the winning formula. BWP up top is also in question. If Jesse wants to, he may switch him out for Antole Abang, but something tells me he will want to keep BWP on in order to possibly boost his confidence from a potential goal on Sunday.
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Big thanks to Pat from Once a Metro for giving us some insight on the defending Supporters' Shield-winning New York Red Bulls.