Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Red Bulls need to be pushovers

No revenge, only 3 points needed, as RBNY hosts Houston tonight

Mike Petke humbly took the blame for the Red Bulls' early form that saw them winless through six matches before its 2-1 win at Red Bull Arena last Wednesday over the Philadelphia Union. But surely his players are having none of that.

You sensed the grittiness and hard work that Thierry Henry & Co. displayed in their first victory last week as players walked off the pitch, with Henry limping and Tim Cahill huffing and puffing more so than usual. However, there was relief as the increasingly-versatile Eric Alexander produced an intelligent and quiet yet effective display on the field.

Now the Houston Dynamo roll into town--a team that New York has had success against during the regular season here in nearby Harrison, N.J. and in Texas. The Dynamo have problems of their own, starting out slow once again and scrambling to get back on track much like the Red Bulls are. On the other hand, this is a script that supporters have seen from Houston. Even Henry knows it as he watched the Dynamo's goalless draw in Philadelphia, a game that he feels Houston should have put away.

It doesn't matter that the Dynamo stole a 2-1 win in the second leg of last year's playoff series at Red Bull Arena that eliminated New York, stinging the team and supporters alike. Right now what matters is a win at home for Petke and his side, a result that could kickstart a positive streak in this year's campaign. The playoff loss as well as its Supporters Shield is in the past; their main focus is turning around early-season woes.

That will take focus, commitment and maybe some bullying. New York will be missing some pieces tonight but have the depth to control proceedings, especially against a demoralized Dynamo side that have lost three in a row before its goalless draw in Philly. Houston will be missing a key piece in defense that the Red Bulls can look to exploit.

It's still early in the season but the sole game in MLS tonight will be watched by many. A win by either would catapult them higher up in the Eastern Conference table. 

-Tio Pelotas