Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. FC Dallas
Venue: Red Bull Arena – Friday, April 29 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)
Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 6/4 – Draw 23/10 – FC Dallas 9/5
The Red Bulls lifted the shield in 2015 but a poor start to this season has left them sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference after winning just two of their eight games so far.
Jesse Marsch will be concerned with his side’s form, having watched them lost six times so far, although last weekend’s 3-2 win over Orlando showed the team still have fight left in them to turn things around.
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his first two goals of the season in that win and Red Bulls fan will now be hoping he can kick on and start firing the club up the standings.
The visit of FC Dallas is a tricky one, however. The Western Conference leaders have lost just twice in nine outings so far and are a tough nut to crack.
Although they enter this game off the back of a shock 3-0 defeat to Vancouver on Saturday. Dallas had countless chances but couldn’t get through David Ousted and ultimately paid the price, though the scoreline didn’t really reflect the game.
That defeat was the club’s second in four away games this term and they are clearly not the same force on the road as they are at home.
The Red Bulls will take confidence from that, as well as from the fact they are unbeaten in six MLS games against the Texan club (W5 D1).
Last season’s only meeting between the clubs ended 0-0 at Toyota Stadium, though goals are expected here as the Red Bulls have yet to keep a clean sheet this season.
New York Red Bulls will still be without central defenders Gideon Baah and Damien Perrinelle, so Ronald Zubar should continue to partner Karl Ouimette at the heart of defence again. Gonzalo Veron also remains sidelined with a hamstring injury as Jesse Marsch may name an unchanged side.
FC Dallas have two injury concerns heading into this one as Alex Zendejas and Matt Hedges are both injured. Mauro Diaz returned to the side on Saturday and will hope to make his first start since March here.
New York Red Bulls’ last five: L/L/L/L/W
FC Dallas’ last five: D/D/W/W/L
Key Stat: FC Dallas haven’t managed to score against the Red Bulls in their last three clashes and have now gone 299 minutes without finding a net against the Eastern Conference side.
Key Player: Sacha Kljestan – The Red Bulls midfielder has the quality to unlock any defence and has showed that by tallying three assists in his last two outings. New York will look to him to lead the team to back-to-back victories for the first time this season on Friday night.
New York Red Bulls 1-1 FC Dallas – This is likely to be a tight game, despite the difference in form so far this season. The Red Bulls showed spirit to come back and beat Orlando last weekend, and will need to show that again to take anything from this match. Dallas, on the other hand, will be desperately disappointed to have fallen 3-0 at Vancouver. They need to pick back up but may struggle to walk away with all three points. Score draw.