Preview: Slumping Red Bulls host red-hot Rapids on ESPN

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs COLORADO RAPIDS
RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
March 25, 2012 (WEEK 3, MLS Game #25)
4 pm ET (ESPN/Deportes)

 

The New York Red Bulls return to Red Bull Arena for their first home game of the new season, entertaining the Colorado Rapids on Sunday afternoon. The Red Bulls return home after dropping both of their first games on the road, latest a 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake last Saturday. The Rapids are on the second game of a two-game East Coast swing, making it two wins from two starts last Sunday in a 2-1 win against Philadelphia Union.

REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Chris Strickland; 4th: Andrew Chapin

MLS Career: 74 games; FC/gm: 24.8; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 23; pens: 21

INJURY REPORT: NEW YORK RED BULLS -- QUESTIONABLE: MF Teemu Tainio (R ankle contusion); FW Jose Angulo (L quad strain) ; COLORADO RAPIDS -- OUT: MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); DOUBTFUL: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear); PROBABLE: DF Hunter Freeman (R ankle arthroscopy)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: NY: Juan Agudelo (USA U-23)

SUSPENDED: COL: Jeff Larentowicz (through March 25)

WATCH: Key Match-Up -- Castrillon vs. Marquez

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (35 meetings): Red Bulls 14 wins, 53 goals ; Rapids 16 wins, 54 goals ; Ties 5

AT NEW YORK (17 meetings): Red Bulls 8 wins, 35 goals ; Rapids 7 wins, 27 goals ; Ties 2

LAST YEAR (MLS):

5/25: NY 2, COL 2 (Henry 29; Rodgers 33 - Larentowicz 27, 32)

7/20: COL 4, NY 1 (Nyassi 2, 31, 61; Thompson 26 - Henry 67)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Since moving to Red Bull Arena, New York has not lost at home to Colorado, winning both league meetings in Harrison, as well as a U.S. Open Cup play-in match. That ended a three-game Rapids winning streak at New York, all at Giants Stadium from 2007-09.
  • The Red Bulls have not won on their last four trips to Dick's Sporting Goods Park.-    Coaches record: Hans Backe vs. COL: P2 W0 L1 D1 ; Oscar Pareja vs. NY: first game

NEW YORK RED BULLS

WATCH: New York drops result at RSL

The New York Red Bulls made it two defeats out of two matches on the road to start the 2012 season, falling 3-1 to Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Red Bulls are one of six Eastern Conference teams looking for their first point on the season.

LAST MATCH

  • RSL broke through in the 39th minute. Paulo Junior flicked on a ball behind the New York back line and Fabian Esp"ndola gathered it in and advanced into the penalty area, where he placed a low strike underneath the legs of RBNY 'keeper Ryan Meara.
  • The home side doubled the margin in the 58th minute through some nice build-up along the left side. Rookie Sebastian Velasquez received a through ball into the area, and played it square to Esp"ndola. His shot went into Meara's chest, but the rebound fell to Luis Gil, who blasted the rebound into the net.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made one change to the team that lost 2-1 to FC Dallas at at FC Dallas Stadium to start the season. Victor Palsson came into the midfield in place of Juan Agudelo, away on international duty.

NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-1-1): Ryan Meara - Jan Gunnar Solli, Stephen Keel, Markus Holgersson, Roy Miller - Dane Richards, Teemu Tainio (Mehdi Ballouchy 46), Victor Palsson (Kenny Cooper 46), Joel Lindpere - Dax McCarty - Thierry Henry.

TEAM NEWS

  • With Juan Agudelo away on international duty, Backe opted to leave Thierry Henry as a lone striker in front of five midfielders to start the RSL match. That changed at halftime when he brought on Kenny Cooper to partner Henry in attack.
  • "Our team plan, because we have quality players in the team, should be to pass the ball faster," said midfielder Joel Lindpere. "Try to hurt as much [the] opponent. Look forward, not try to sit with the ball, we need to pass it around faster. We can see that when we start to move the ball and pass it, then we create chances and we can hurt them. It means we have to be sharper and more aggressive."
  • New York has opened the season with back-to-back losses for the first time since 1998. The MetroStars started their history with back-to-back losses to kick off each of the first three seasons.
  • "Now coming home, to the home opener, having two games [at home], that will help a lot," Backe said. "We will just have to show that we are almost unbeatable at Red Bull Arena."
  • With four goals conceded through two games, along with D.C. United, New England and the LA Galaxy, only Philadelphia Union have allowed more after two weeks.
  • "You can't make these kind of unforced errors against good teams," said Backe. "They kill you. We had five in the first half. Not under pressure, sloppy passing, they scored one of those." Added center back Stephen Keel: "It's about executing better," said. "Essentially, you look at the four goals we've conceded, it's just silly mistakes. Just mental lapses and a couple of decision making here and there. You clean those up, and we're OK. It's about being focused and switched on for 90 minutes."
  • Rafa Marquez will be available after missing the first two games of the season through suspension, and Wilman Conde could also be ready after suffering a thigh strain in preseason. Conde returned to full training during the week.
  • "He will probably be available," Backe said. "Let's see how he responds. He trained this weekend with eight, 10 guys. Now we have a lot of sessions before the Sunday game."
  • Midfielder Teemu Tainio is listed as questionable on the club's injury report after suffering a knock to his right ankle against Real Salt Lake and being substituted at halftime. "It's a heavy bruise," Backe said. "He felt much better (Tuesday). I would guess earliest Friday we can see if he is available."

COLORADO RAPIDS

WATCH: 10-man Rapids knock off Philly

The Colorado Rapids started off their first road swing of the new season in fine fashion, defeating Philadelphia Union 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at PPL Park. The Rapids are tied with Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Real Salt Lake atop the Western Conference with 6 points from 2 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The visitors took the lead in the 56th minute. Omar Cummings got to the endline and played in a cross that slipped through the hands of Philly 'keeper Zac MacMath but didn't escape Jaime CastrillÛn, who tapped in the loose ball at the back post.
  • The complexion of the match changed drastically just moments later, though, as Colorado's Jeff Larentowicz was sent off for his second yellow card.
  • Despite the man disadvantage, the Rapids managed to double their lead in the 62nd minute, when rookie Tony Cascio got in behind Chris Albright on the wing, moved in on goal, and fired under the leg of MacMath.
  • Union pulled a goal back five minutes later. Roger Torres gathered a cleared corner kick and whipped a curling cross into the penalty area. Lionard Pajoy met the service just outside the six-yard box and powered a diving header under the arms of Rapids netminder Matt Pickens.
  • Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made no changes to the team that opened the year with a 2-0 victory against the Columbus Crew at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata - Jeff Larentowicz (sent off 58), Pablo Mastroeni (Ross LaBauex 76) - Brian Mullan, Jaime Castrillon, Tony Cascio (Wells Thompson 68) - Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa 83).

TEAM NEWS

  • After going their first 15 seasons without winning their first two games, the Rapids have now done it back-to-back seasons, following the win at Philadelphia. In 2011, Colorado won its first three in a row.
  • "We came out in the second half trying to get control of the tempo and the game and get more possession of the ball," said Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja. "They found a way to get the result and I'm happy for them. There are many things we need to get better at, but we deserve the three points."
  • The Rapids are looking to win the first two road games of the season for the first time in club history. A year ago, Colorado was 6-7-4 on the road; 6-2-9 at home.
  • "In MLS, that's what it comes down to on these away trips," said goalkeeper Matt Pickens. "Going away to other teams' home venues, it's hard to get points, let alone three points in MLS on a home trip."
  • Tony Cascio became the first rookie to score a goal in MLS this season, by a few hours, when the No. 14 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut netted the eventual match-winner.
  • "I never gave up on the play, I figured I'd take a shot and it felt great," Cascio said. "At halftime, we just pulled it together and made the best of [the game]."
  • Jaime CastrillÛn scored his first MLS goal to give the Rapids the lead vs. Philadelphia, again reprising his central midfield role.
  • "He did a great job offensively, participating, and scored a goal. And after that, he created some situations as well," said Pareja. "And then when we needed him to get back here and do the dirty work, tidy things up in the middle and be out with the central defensive midfielder, he came and did an excellent job in that situation. He did very well."