Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City
Venue: Red Bull Arena – Saturday, April 9 – 19:00 EDT (00:00 BST)
Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 1/1 – Draw 5/2 – Sporting Kansas City 13/5
New York Red Bulls welcome Sporting Kansas City to Red Bull Arena on Saturday night with the hosts looking to end a sorry run of form which has seen them lose three of their first four matches of the new season.
They are yet to keep a clean sheet and all of their goals this season came in the 4-3 win over Houston Dynamo. Furthering their problems, Felipe will miss the game through suspension and star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips is yet to score this term.
However, the most worrying problems seem to be the lack of defensive options available as four first-team defenders are injured in some way and Karl Ouimette is the only fit central defender available to Jesse Marsch.
Turning things around this weekend looks a tough ask for the Red Bulls, though the home support should give their chances a significant boost.
Sporting Kansas City on the other hand started the season with a 100% record until the 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend.
They have so far scored in every game and have quickly set themselves a good platform for success this season.
Their early-season form will need to carry on if SKC are to challenge at the top end of the Western Conference and they will fancy their chances of beating an injury-plagued Red Bulls team here.
They have a huge upcoming month with three of their next four fixtures away from home. So this clash is the start of a tough run for the Kansas City squad.
These sides met just once last term, playing out a 1-1 draw in Kansas City. The Red Bulls won the most recent meeting at Red Bull Arena in the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs, before SKC were transferred back over to the Western Conference.
New York Red Bulls will be without three first team defenders as their defensive crisis continues to cause Jesse Marsch serious selection problems. Damien Perrinelle, Gideon Baah and Ronald Zubar are all still out, while Kemar Lawrence is a doubt with a knee injury picked up last week. Gonzalo Veron is also out and Felipe is suspended after being sent off against New England Revolution.
Sporting Kansas City are missing Justin Mapp and defensive star Matt Besler. Paulo Nagamura is a doubt with a calf strain.
New York Red Bulls’ form: L/L/W/L
Sporting Kansas City’s form: W/W/W/L
Key Stat: Including postseason meetings, SKC have failed to beat the Red Bulls on the last six occasions. The Red Bulls have won four of those last six meetings.
Key Player: Dom Dwyer – English-born striker Dwyer is the lone attacker in SKC’s current system and the impressive start to the season has shown signs that he will have plenty of service this year. It’s only a matter of time before they start flying in regularly for Dwyer and he will be a threat here.
New York Red Bulls 2-2 Sporting Kansas City – After a good start from SKC and a poor start from Red Bulls, this clash is hard to call. We are expecting goals and quite an even battle. However, the Red Bulls’ defensive options are limited and SKC will set out to earn three points. A score draw looks likely, though this really could go either way.