1.) Red Bull has won three of their last four, really helping during this playoff push. What’s clicked up there in Harrison?
Indeed it looks like the Red Bulls have swerved away from disaster. The team’s form plummeted after a disastrous second half in the Open Cup semifinal in Orlando. But just when it seemed things might go into a death spiral, Gerhard Struber and the team managed to stabilize the situation over the last couple weeks.
After spending a couple games playing rigidly defensive to try and stop a flood of goal concession, the team started adding goals to their game again in an away match in Atlanta while finally getting their first home win in months over Miami last week. A switch away from a 5-4-1 to more of a 4-2-3-1 formation has paid dividends in the attack, with the Red Bulls proving more dangerous on the front foot than they have since before the summer.
2.) Saturday’s matchup will be a tough one for both teams, given the battle between two teams that sit atop the Eastern Conference. Do you expect a fair fight?
There’s always potential for this matchup to get messy. Two geographic rivals who play similar aggressive and proactive styles. But after a stretch during the summer where it seemed like every game featured fights and cards, Red Bulls games have mellowed out in recent weeks.
But it could add to the Red Bulls’ newfound placidity that not only has English hard man Tom Edwards left the club to return to the UK, but midfield grinder Cristian Cásseres will also be on yellow card suspension tonight.
3.) What’s been the most dangerous part of Red Bull’s game this season?
The Red Bulls have never been more straightforward in how they play than right now under Struber — they want to smother opposing teams into submission with pressing and take advantage of their mistakes. When this team gets an early goal, it’s usually a bloodbath after.
But even when other teams bunker, the Red Bulls have gotten better at crashing the box and playing in possession over recent weeks. Most of the team’s goals this summer have come from second balls, with midfielders like Lewis Morgan, Luquinhas, and Cristian Cásseres pouncing on rushed clearances from frustrated defenders.
4.) Will Red Bull have any notable injuries? What are your lineup and score predictions?
With Cásseres out for this game and Frankie Amaya questionable, the midfield could be the biggest question mark for the Red Bulls. I think it will look like this:
Coronel, Tolkin, Long, Reyes, Duncan, Edelman, Yearwood, Morgan, Luquinhas, Fernandez, Klimala
In theme with how recent games have gone between these two teams, and how tight both are playing with Shield and playoff positioning on the line, I’ll expect a 1-1 draw.