New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo | MLS Match Preview

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs HOUSTON DYNAMO
RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
April 23, 2014 (WEEK 8, MLS Game #63)
7:30 p.m. ET (MSG; CSN-Hou)

Two teams that met in a pulsating MLS Cup Playoffs series a year ago meet for the first time this season when the New York Red Bulls play host to the Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo ended the season for the Supporters’ Shield holders last year, with a 2-1 win at Red Bull Arena following a 2-2 home draw. The Red Bulls come into the match after having ended their six-game winless run to start the season last week with a 2-1 win against Philadelphia, while the Dynamo saw their winless streak extended to four game following a scoreless draw at Philadelphia.

REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Greg Barkey; AR2 (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Robert Sibiga
MLS Career: 160 games; FC/gm: 23.9; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 32; pens: 46

SUSPENDED: NY: Ibrahim Sekagya (through April 23)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Armando
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (18 meetings): Red Bulls 8 wins, 26 goals … Dynamo 3 wins, 17 goals … Ties 7
AT NEW YORK (9 meetings): Red Bulls 6 wins, 14 goals … Dynamo 0 wins, 4 goals … Ties 3
RETURN MATCHES: 7/4: Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. CT; 10/4: New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo, 6 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/30: NY 2, HOU 0 (Espindola 60; Steele 88)
9/8: HOU 1, NY 4 (Johnson 18 – Alexander 14; Henry 47; Steele 58; Sam 88)
10/20: HOU 0, NY 3 (Cahill 1; Sekagya 65; Wright-Phillips 75)

• The Red Bulls have won the last four league contests between the teams – including all three a season ago, outscoring the Dynamo 7-1 in a pair of late-season victories at BBVA Compass Stadium.

• The Red Bulls have won on their last two visits to Houston in league play; before last season, the Dynamo were meeting 4-0-3 all-time at home vs. New York. The Red Bulls are 6-0-3 all-time at home vs. Houston.

• But the Dynamo won the Eastern Conference Semifinal Series between the clubs last year, winning 2-1 at Red Bull Arena in the second leg, after the teams played to a 2-2 draw in Houston. It was the Dynamo’s first win ever in Harrison in all competitions.

• The Red Bulls’ 4-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium last Sept. 8 was the most goals the Dynamo had allowed in a home game (matched earlier this season in a 4-1 loss to FC Dallas).

• Coaches record: Mike Petke vs. HOU: P3 W3 L0 D0 … Dominic Kinnear vs. NY: P23 W6 L9 D8

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls put an end to their six-game winless run to open the 2014 season, claiming a 2-1 win against Philadelphia Union on April 16 at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls sit in a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 7 matches on the season.

LAST MATCH

• The Red Bulls took the lead in the 57th minute. Eric Alexander fed a streaking Roy Miller on the overlap on the left flank, and he squared a ball to an unmarked Thierry Henry, who side-footed home from the center of the area.

• Ten minutes later, the Red Bulls doubled their lead. Alexander dribbled towards the goal line before clipping a ball to the back post, where Lloyd Sam was lurking, and he nodded home with a powerful strike.

• But 10 minutes from the end, Red Bulls defender Ibrahim Sekagya was sent off by referee Ricardo Salazar after seeing the ball hit his flailing arm as he dove to a block a shot in the box. Sébastien Le Toux converted the resulting penalty to cut the lead in half, but the home side held out from there.

• Red Bulls boss Mike Petke made one change to the team that suffered a 1-0 loss to D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Bradley Wright-Phillips came back into the team in place of Jonny Steele.

• NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya (ejected 78), Roy Miller - Lloyd Sam, Dax McCarty, Peguy Luyindula (Tim Cahill 63), Eric Alexander - Bradley Wright-Phillips (Armando 80), Thierry Henry (Jonny Steele 90).

TEAM NEWS

• The Red Bulls claimed their first victory of the season, after a 1-0 loss at D.C. United the weekend before put an end to a streak of four consecutive draws.

• “Let’s be honest here, we are seven games in and we’re without a win [prior to tonight], but only two losses though,” said head coach Mike Petke. “Obviously, there is some tension within myself. I wouldn’t call it outright pressure, but this is New York and this is the Red Bulls. Everyone who has been around this team long enough knows the pressure I put on myself, so, yeah, you saw a lot of relief after that second goal went in because the way things have been going this year.”

• Eric Alexander had the second 2-assist game of his MLS career, setting up both goals in the win against Philadelphia. Alexander had two assists for Portland vs. Real Salt Lake, March 30, 2012. The assists came on a night when he was moved to the left flank from his usual central role.

• “I always told everyone to watch out for Eric, and everyone still wants Eric to be the first sub or it’s an easy option for Eric to come off [in a game], but if you know football, then you know he’s a class player and he’s a team player," Tim Cahill said. " ... Eric’s someone that I feel has a massive impact on this team, and you can see with the manager that he believes in him. You can see the way Thierry [Henry] talks about him as well. He’s a footballer, he’s a proper footballer, so I’m a massive fan.”

• Said Henry: “I’ve been saying for a very long time that he’s kind of the unsung hero. People don’t talk too much about him, but today he was brilliant for us. Mike asked him to play on the left, [and] he did it. Sometimes he plays in front of the defense, sometimes he plays on the right, sometimes he doesn’t play, [and] he doesn’t moan. He’s trying to do the best for the team, and I guess he got his reward.”

• After assisting on three of the Red Bulls’ first six goals this season, Lloyd Sam scored his first of 2014, heading home the match-winner.

• “It was a great goal by Lloyd,” said Cahill. “He’s been playing excellent. He’s been really a spark on the right and I think for us we’ve needed that, but we haven’t really finished off some of his good work.”

• Thierry Henry netted his second goal of the season, his first since March 15, in opening the scoring.

• “I think for the most part this year, we have created chances like that,” said midfielder Dax McCarty. “We’ve had a lot of crosses in the box, we just haven’t really been able to get on the end of things. We haven’t been able to finish plays off and the final ball has always been lacking a little bit. That’s the difference between a team that hadn’t won a game all year and a team that could probably have three or four wins already. It’s just that quality in the final third.”

• After missing two matches through injury, Cahill was able to make his first appearance since March 30, coming on as a substitute for the final 27 minutes.

HOUSTON DYNAMO

The Houston Dynamo saw their winless run extended to four matches, snapping a string of back-to-back losses with a scoreless draw against Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. The Dynamo are in a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 6 games.

LAST MATCH

• Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall wasn't called upon to make a single save on the afternoon, while Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was credited with two saves. The closest either team came to scoring was in the first half when an attempy by Dynamo striker Will Bruin found the woodwork.

• The Dynamo finished a man down when Kofi Sarkodie was shown a second yellow card by referee Armando Villarreal for time-wasting and was sent off in the 82nd minute.

• Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that dropped a 2-0 decision to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. David Horst returned from suspension in place of A.J. Cochran.

• HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-1-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie (ejected 82), Jermaine Taylor, David Horst, Corey Ashe - Tony Cascio (Omar Cummings 75), Ricardo Clark (Servando Carrasco 89), Andrew Driver (Warren Creavalle 65) - Boniek Garcia - Giles Barnes, Will Bruin.

TEAM NEWS

• The Dynamo saw their winless streak extended to four games, and their goalless streak extended to 229 minutes, following the scoreless draw.

• “I think the guys held together well and dug deep the last little bit, and getting a point out of that was good,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “It’s a conference opponent; it’s a tough game playing down a man for the last (eight) minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I think in the first half we wanted more than just one point. But I thought the second half, considering the situation, I think the point was OK.”

• Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall recorded his third shutout of the season – tied with Sporting KC’s Eric Kronberg for most in MLS. The Dynamo had conceded eight goals in the previous three games before the Union match.

• “We had those three losses and wanted to get back on the right track,” defender David Horst said. “Right now we’re putting parts of games together and if we can keep putting parts of games together constantly, eventually the whole thing will come together for us.”

• After conceding three goals in the 4-1 loss to FC Dallas after center back David Horst was sent off, the Dynamo saw out the rest of the Philadelphia contest after Kofi Sarkodie was sent off.

• “There’s nothing we can do about [Sarkodie's second yellow]," Horst said. "It’s just one more step for us this season with a little adversity thrown our way. I think the guys handled it well.”

• After Horst returned to the Houston lineup following his suspension, keeping the first-choice back four together for a fifth time in six games, there will be another change with Sarkodie’s suspension for the New York match.

• With Brad Davis out for a second consecutive week with a hamstring injury, Boniek Garcia again filled a playmaking role in behind the front two, with Tony Cascio playing wide on the right of midfield.

• “We were so close to getting that goal. It did not happen, but at least we had good shape and stayed compact defensively and kept them at zeroes,” said striker Will Bruin.