FC Dallas enters yet another huge game this weekend as they travel to the Big Apple to face the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
This will be the first and only regular season meeting between the two sides. These two clubs have not played one another since the beginning of the 2012 season when FC Dallas won 2-1 in Frisco.
A fair amount has changed between the two sides since that last meeting as Mike Petke took over as the Red Bulls’ manager this season and has helped guide them to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 14-9-6 record.
The Red Bulls are coming off a 2-0 win at home last weekend to Toronto FC. Goals came from Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola.
New York has won their last three games and are 3-1-1 in their last five. The Red Bulls can be a bit of a confusing team to figure out as they’ll beat a Real Salt Lake or Sporting KC, but then draw Toronto or lose to Chivas USA.
Petke has several players on long-term injuries including veterans Roy Miller and Health Pearce. Homegrown utility man Connor Lade is also out.
The big question marks for this weekend will center around Brandon Barklage and Designated Player Tim Cahill. Petke told the local media in New York this week that Cahill would likely return for this weekend’s match.
HIGHLIGHTS: FCD 2 NYRB 1
Jamison Olave vs Blas Perez – These two big, physical players will go at it on Sunday. Olave always does a good job at positioning himself against big strikers like Perez. The key in this battle will come down to how much Perez wins the open field battle. If he is able to get the ball in space and create in the attack, it will put more pressure on the rest of the Red Bull defense.
Dax McCarty vs David Ferreira – The ‘Ginger Ninja’ faces his old side this weekend and for McCarty he will be going right at it with Ferreira. McCarty is the guy in the midfield that makes things happen for the Red Bulls. He keeps the pressure off his defense with his ability to track all over the field.
Key Player for New York
Thierry Henry – While some could argue that New York is more about what McCarty can do in the midfield or Olave in the defense, the bottom line is, this is still Henry’s team. As he goes, so does the Red Bulls. Currently, Henry sits at nine goals and eight assists on the season.
Henry is a master at getting his team to be better around him as he works hard to set up his teammates and he is always dangerous on the ball in his own offensive third of the field.
Petke uses a traditional 4-4-2 type of formation that focuses in on midfield possession and working the ball wide. The big question will be whether or not Cahill is re-inserted back into the lineup after coming off injury. Petke also has big guys coming off the bench in players like Espindola and Peguy Luyindula.
Goalkeeper: Luis Robles; RB: David Carney; CB: Markus Holgersson, Jamison Olave; LB: Kosuke Kimura; RM: Jonathan Steele; CM: Dax McCarty, Michael Bustamante; LM: Eric Alexander; FW: Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Keys to three points
New York is a team that does very well in possession. They also do a great job at playing the wings and working the ball into the box from the flanks. Last week against Toronto, the Red Bulls controlled the game from start to finish.
Dallas will need to be smart with their possession and play from the midfield. While New York has done well lately at playing the ball on the wings, they do expose themselves with their fullbacks playing a little further up the field. If Dallas can be smart about their counter attacks, they will have the chance to expose the backline of the Red Bulls with their speed similar to what they were able to do last week in Colorado.
New York’s physical style of play does give up a fair amount of set piece chances for the other team and Dallas is a good enough team to take advantage of them.
Dallas is in a must-win mode right now at this point in the season. They know if they can snag a win on the road, that it would be huge for their playoff chances. If they can put it all together for 90 minutes, a win in New York would send a notice to the rest of the league that Dallas is still a team to take very serious here.