Orlando City gets its second swing at a victory for Bobby Murphy tonight at Red Bull Arena, and a third and final swing at a win over New York this season. The Lions played well enough to win the most recent match but wasted too many chances in a 1-1 draw at home. Before that, they threw away a 1-0 lead and lost 3-2 at Red Bull Arena.
Let’s learn about the hosts tonight from SB Nation’s New York blog, Once A Metro. Our good friend Steve Toto was kind enough to stop by and give us all the info on the Red Bulls that we need. I also answered their questions, so you can hit that over at their place.
It's a double game week, so let's just get straight to the questions, shall we?
After a run of good form, the Red Bulls are winless in four. What’s been the difference lately in the change in fortunes?
Steve Toto: This season, it seems that when the team is good, they all play well, and when they are bad, they all play poorly. The Red Bulls had a stretch of seven games where they only gave up three goals. But now they are in a stretch where they are struggling for goals and have given up five in these last four games. We'll take the positive that they were able to record a clean sheet against Portland this Sunday, but it was a home game; the offense should be riling up the South Ward with some goals. Sacha Kljestan, Mike Grella and Bradley Wright-Phillips need to get on the same page again.
It seems that if the team gets behind or they have the feeling they are playing poorly, they resort to the long ball over the top and the game becomes a bunch of 50/50 headers like a game of ping pong. When they are playing well, they are pressing hard and play a technical game of keep away. It seems they need to get back to a bit more of disciplined soccer.
You’ve had a few weeks now to get used to Aurélien Collin in a Red Bulls uniform. How has he handled the move to New York and how are Red Bulls fans feeling about the deal now that it’s had time to sink in?
ST: Right after his move, he looked like he was the missing link. He was winning crosses and tackling well. The team had five shutouts in a row (all competitions). Not really sure if teams are starting to figure him or the defense out, but some of the magic dust has settled.
It's been a bit of a tough road for the Red Bulls at center back. This off-season began with the departure of Matt Miazga to Chelsea and Damien Perrinelle needed ACL surgery. So they have had a revolving door at the heart of the defense. They signed Gideon Baah in preseason, but he suffered an early injury, and now will be out for at least the rest of the regular season with a broken leg. Canadian national teamer Karl Ouimette plugged the hole early on, but now he was sent on a season-long loan to Jacksonville Armada. Chris Duvall came off of his injury suffered at the end of last season, but he is not his old self yet and is a natural outside back. They even stuck the shortest player on the team, Connor Lade, there for a bit. Hopefully Collin and Perrinelle can stay healthy the rest of the way to provide some continuity.
After two previous meetings, what do you see as the key match-up that will decide round three?
ST: It will be interesting to see how Collin and Perrinelle can grow their chemistry. They will have to contain Cyle Larin and Kevin Molino. The rest of Orlando's main players look to be injured, but they can't be counted out by only stopping two players. If the Red Bulls can minimize the danger Orlando brings, and maintain possession, they should be able to look like their old selves again.
We will have to see if their inconsistent prolific offense can put the pressure on a defense led by an interim coach in his second game at the helm.
Any key injuries/suspensions the Red Bulls are facing that we should know about? Predictions for the starting XI and the final score of the match?
ST: Injuries: Gideon Baah (broken tibia) -- out 4-5 months, Kemar Lawrence (groin) -- out 1-2 more weeks.
Starting XI: Luis Robles; Connor Lade, Aurélien Collin, Damien Perrinelle, Sal Zizzo; Dax McCarty, Felipe; Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan, Alex Muyl, Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Predicted score: 2-1. The Red Bulls may be able to pull out a tightly played match against another struggling team. It helps they are at home.
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Big thanks to Steve from Once A Metro for giving us some insight on tonight's opponents from New Jersey.