Preview: Red Bulls, Rapids out to rediscover winning form

The New York Red Bulls return home to take on the defending MLS champion Colorado Rapids, who are once again on the road against an Eastern Conference club, when the two sides meet Wednesday at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls haven’t won in three games, but came back for a late draw at Houston last weekend. The Rapids are now five games unbeaten, all against Eastern clubs, after a scoreless draw at home with Toronto FC.

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REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero MLS Career: 58 games; FC/gm: 24.5; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 18; pens: 16

INJURY REPORT: NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion); DF Chris Albright (hernia surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Rafael Marquez (groin strain) … COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); FW Caleb Folan (R groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (L calf strain); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: NY: Dane Richards (Jamaica)

SUSPENDED: COL: Brian Mullan (through June 26)

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none.
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Luke Rodgers … COL: Conor Casey, Drew Moor

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (33 meetings):
Red Bulls 14 wins (0 shootout), 50 goals … Rapids 15 wins (0 shootout), 48 goals … Ties 4

  • AT NEW YORK (16 meetings): Red Bulls 8 wins, 33 goals … Rapids 7 wins, 25 goals … Ties 1
  • RETURN MATCH: 7/20: Colorado Rapids vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. MT

LAST YEAR (MLS):

  • 7/4: COL 1, NY 1 (Cummings 15 – Angel 34)
  • 9/11: NY 3, COL 1 (Henry 17; Ream 32; Richards 58 – Cummings 52)
  • New York’s 3-1 win at Red Bull Arena last Sept. 11 was their first against the Rapids since 2007, putting an end to a five-game winless streak. Colorado had won four of the games in between.
  • Coaches record: Hans Backe vs. COL: P2 W1 L0 D1 … Gary Smith v NY: P5 W3 L1 D1

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls left it late, but came back for a dramatic 2-2 tie with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at Robertson Stadium. The Red Bulls have 16 points from 10 games, now sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls took the lead after just 39 seconds. Luke Rodgers knocked down a long ball from Rafael Marquez and laid it back to Dane Richards, who pounded a low drive past Tally Hall from long range. It was the fastest goal from the start of a game in New York club history.
  • But the Dynamo pulled even after 12 minutes. Márquez's attempted slide tackle in the box caught Will Bruin’s ankle, and Brad Davis converted the resulting penalty.
  • The stalemate was broken in the 82nd minute. A Geoff Cameron header off a corner kick was saved by Red Bulls ‘keeper Greg Sutton, but Koke made a lunging effort to beat two New York defenders and poke home the rebound.
  • Yet the Red Bulls found the leveler in stoppage time. Mehdi Ballouchy got onto the end of a Joel Lindpere corner kick and snapped a quality header past Hall.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made one change to the team that fell 3-2 to Chivas USA at Red Bull Arena.
  • Juan Agudelo came into the attack in place of the injured Thierry Henry.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Greg Sutton - Jan Gunnar Solli, Tim Ream, Rafael Marquez, Roy Miller, Teemu Tainio - Dane Richards, Dwayne De Rosario, Joel Lindpere - Juan Agudelo (Mehdi Ballouchy 79), Luke Rodgers (Corey Hertzog 94+).

TEAM NEWS

  • Dane Richards’ goal after just 39 seconds was the fastest scored in New York club history and the 20th-fastest in MLS history. Current Red Bulls midfielder Dwayne De Rosario holds the all-time record, 11 seconds into a game for the San Jose Earthquakes against Dallas in 2003.
  • Following three consecutive victories, the Red Bulls have once again embarked upon a three-game winless stretch where they’ve drawn two and lost one.
  • “We played a decent game compared to the Chivas game,” head coach Hans Backe said. “We kept the ball better, we had better possession. We didn’t panic when we went 2-1 down, we still tried to play. I think overall, it was a pretty good game.”
  • The Red Bulls conceded a third goal from a set piece in the last two games for the Dynamo’s late go-ahead goal; they’ve allowed four goals on deadball situations out of eight total on the year.
  • Thierry Henry missed the match through swelling in his right knee, but was able to return to regular training to begin the week. Backe said Henry looked “decent”, but added he still might not be available.
  • “[He] still has problems with the long passes where he has to open up,” Backe said.
  • However, Backe said Mexican international defender Rafael Márquez could be out after suffering a groin strain in warmups prior to the Dynamo match.
  • Greg Sutton replaced Bouna Coundoul in goal against Houston, his first start since March 19 when he recorded a clean sheet in the season-opening 1-0 win against Seattle. The next week, Sutton suffered a concussion in training and had not appeared since.
  • “[Backe] told me that I deserve to be back,” Sutton said. “He wanted me to be aggressive, they have some big guys in the box. He wasn’t too happy with how things were going back there.”

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids played to a third consecutive draw, this time a scoreless result with Toronto FC on Sunday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have 16 points from 11 games, sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens was the busier of the two on the night, making three saves, including one on a close-range effort from Nick Soolsma just before halftime. Mikael Yourassowsky also blasted a shot off the crossbar in the 62nd minute.
  • TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei made two saves for his third shutout, his second this season in a scoreless draw.
  • Rapids head coach Gary Smith made two changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Anthony Wallace and Conor Casey came into the team for Wells Thompson and Andre Akpan.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Tyrone Marshall, Anthony Wallace - Kosuke Kimura, Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith (Sanna Nyassi 46) - Quincy Amarikwa (Wells Thompson 67), Conor Casey (Andre Akpan 61).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Rapids have played to three consecutive draws – two of them goalless – after their 0-0 result with Toronto FC on Sunday.
  • "We kind of feel like we left some points on the table there," said Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens. "We didn't get enough good scoring opportunities at home. When we're at home we want three points, and I think we worked pretty hard on the road to come back here and get rewarded with a home game. I think we just kind of left two points on the board."
  • While kept off the scoresheet, Rapids striker Conor Casey was able to make his first start since April 3, playing
  • 61 minutes against TFC.
  • “He needs minutes, he needs to find the pace of games again,” Smith said of Casey. “He just needs more minutes, more match play.”
  • It was the second attacking shutout in three games for the Rapids, and they’ve scored just four goals over the last eight games. Their average of 1.09 goals per games is tied for 13th in MLS.
  • “I think we really are missing some of the more creative guys up front,” Smith said. “When moments came, we needed someone to step up and really take the bull by the horns, create a chance. Two or three occasions through balls went skipping out without any real feeling. So at the moment we are finding goals are hard to come by.”
  • While the Rapids are in a stretch of three out of four games at home, it’s yet another trip to face an Eastern Conference opponent – Colorado’s last four games have all been against the East, three in the Eastern time zone.
  • “This is probably going to be a little bit of a microcosm of the rest of the year,”’ Jeff Larentowicz said. “We know that games are going to come quick. It’s just a tough one. That’s why we wanted to get full points tonight because playing in New York against a strong squad is going to be difficult with midweek travel. That’s why we wanted to win tonight but this is our life. We move on, we have to play another game.”