Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Colorado Rapids
Venue: Red Bull Arena – Saturday, March 11 – 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT)
Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 3/4 – Draw 13/5 – Colorado Rapids 16/5
New York Red Bulls welcome the Colorado Rapids to Red Bull Arena as their first visitors of the new MLS season. Both sides will feel positive going into the game after wins in week one, Colorado beating New England Revolution 1-0 and the hosts seeing off MLS new boys Atlanta United 2-1.
The Red Bulls gave up the majority of possession in last weeks clash in Atlanta, as they earned a hard-fought three points after coming from behind late on. We expect them to enjoy the majority of the possession this week as they settle into their home schedule against a resolute Rapids side.
From first glance at the Dax McCarty-less Red Bulls, it is clear they will struggle more often than not to control games without his calming and experienced presence in the middle. It will be interesting to see how the midfield battle pans out in this one as Michael Azira and Sam Cronin both possess experience in dominating that area of the field for Colorado.
The visitors come into their first road trip off the back of an impressive 2016 season and the start of this season has already proven very little has changed. They saw off a gutsy New England side who marginally won the battle for possession and had more attempts on goal, but still fell short of earning any points in last Saturday’s season opener.
Colorado will want to follow up last season with a strong run into the playoffs, and after narrowly missing out on the Western Conference title last term, they will want to go one better in 2017.
The Rapids picked up 19 points on the road in the 2016 campaign. If they can improve on that tally this term they will be in a great position to challenge for silverware in 2017.
New York Red Bulls only have two injury concerns at the moment with defender Connor Lade ruled out for a while with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, while Gonzalo Veron is a doubt with a minor hamstring issue.
Colorado Rapids will be without goalkeeper John Berner who is struggling with a wrist injury. Tim Howard is listed as questionable with an adductor injury but is back in training and could start here. Midfielder Shkelzen Gashi is a doubt as he is nursing an achilles problem.
New York Red Bulls form: W (2-1 – Atlanta United (A)
Colorado Rapids form: W (1-0 – New England Revolution (H)
Key stat: Leaky – New York have conceded at least two goals in their last three home matches in MLS.
Key Player: Sacha Kljestan – The USMNT creator is the main supplier to star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips. Expect him to provide multiple chances for the Red Bulls here having already chalked up an assist on opening weekend.
New York Red Bulls 2-1 Colorado Rapids – Eastern Conference leaders New York Red Bulls will be made to work hard by the Rapids but we see them coming out on top with home comforts behind them in what is an intriguing early-season matchup between two sides expecting to challenge at the top end of the Supporters’ Shield standings again this season.