MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Wednesday, April 29th – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 8/11 – Draw 13/5 – Colorado Rapids 15/4

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls host Colorado Rapids on Wednesday evening in the only midweek game in MLS to kickstart Week 9’s action.

The Red Bulls are the only remaining unbeaten side this season and will want to keep that run going for as long as possible after an encouraging start.

Jesse Marsch’s side are sitting third in the Eastern Conference and can go top with a win here. By stark contrast, the Rapids are at the foot of the Western Conference table after eight weeks.

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The Red Bulls earned a solid point last weekend against LA Galaxy at home and will be keen to kick on in a game they should win on Wednesday. As we know from games already this season there have been many freak results so the Rapids cannot be written off.

Colorado have only won the once so far in that 4-0 thumping of FC Dallas and since then have lost one and drawn one, including Saturday’s clash with Dallas once again. Pablo Mastroeni’s side are finding goals hard to come by and have scored just six in their seven games so far this season.

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Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam have been in fine form and have five of the Red Bulls’ ten goals this season, and they will be key as usual and could prove to be a real problem for the Rapids defence in this one.

Team News

New York Red Bulls have one injury going into the game as Ronald Zubar is likely to miss out again, but other than that, Marsch has a near on fully fit squad to choose from. Damien Perrinelle is one booking away from a suspension so is on thin ice and will be hoping to stay out of the referees book, having played in every game so far this season, while Roy Miller could return to the side at left-back.

Colorado Rapids are set to be without Sam Cronin and Marc Burch through injury while Marcelo Sarvas will have to watch on from the sideline as he is suspended.

Key Points

New York Red Bulls’ last five: W/W/D/W/D

Colorado Rapids’ last five: D/L/W/L/D

Key Stat: Unbeaten – The Red Bulls remain the only unbeaten side in MLS and that should still be the case heading into the weekend after this one.

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Key Player: Lloyd Sam – The English speedster has started the season really well, scoring three in six and will fancy his chances of netting again on Wednesday night.

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 3-1 Colorado Rapids – The Red Bulls should have too much for the Rapids to withstand in this one, but given the unpredictability of MLS so far this season, Colorado have every chance of scoring and making a game of it.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs New York Red Bulls

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs New York Red Bulls

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, March 28 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 21/20 – Draw 5/2 – New York Red Bulls – 12/5

Match Preview

Columbus Crew entertain New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening as both sides look to build upon their first win of the MLS season.

The Crew beat Toronto 2-0 last time out and are currently sitting in fourth place, with three points from two games, while the Red Bulls are in second place with four points from two games after they beat DC United 2-0 last weekend.

The last time these two sides met, it ended in a 3-1 victory for Columbus and the hosts will certainly be hoping for a repeat result.

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New York Red Bulls are looking to kick into gear after getting that important first win with key man Bradley Wright-Phillips now off the mark. They need to start picking up the pace to show that they can deal with life after Thierry Henry and back-to-back wins will send out a message that they mean business.

Columbus Crew’s Kei Kamara also opened his account last weekend and he will be looking to add to his tally to show why the Crew signed him.

Both sides have started this season cautiously and have looked a little rusty in places, but as the games come thick and fast they will continue to ease into their flowing play.

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Federico Higuain is yet to open his account for the campaign and he will be eager to improve on last seasons tally of 11 goals.

This is an important game for both sides who will want to stake a claim for the playoff places and Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter will be confident he can lead the side to the playoffs once again.

Team News

Columbus Crew have just one known injury concern in the shape of Romain Gall (sprained knee). Though they will be without Justin Meram, Will Trapp and Waylon Francis, who are all away on international duty, so changes will have to be made.

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New York Red Bulls don’t have too many concerns but new man Ronald Zubar could miss out with a hamstring problem and Roy Miller has a sprained knee. Dane Richards, Kemar Lawrence and Karl Ouimette are all away on international duty. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam impressed last weekend, so Steve Clark could have a busy evening in-between the sticks.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: L/W

New York Red Bulls’ form: D/W

Key Stat: These two sides have scored nine goals between them in their last two meetings (New York Red Bulls 1-3 Columbus Crew/New York Red Bulls 4-1 Columbus Crew). If that is anything to go by, we could be in for a treat.

Key Player: Federico Higuain – The playmaker is key to making the Crew tick and he can be the difference with the service to Kamara.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-1 New York Red Bulls – Neither side will want to lose any ground in the playoff charge, even this early on. We can expect Higuain to be pulling the strings for the Crew, while Wright-Phillips and Sam will look to pick-up where they left off last weekend.

Podcast: FC Dallas, BWP’s Red Bulls & Liverpool vs United thoughts

In this week’s MLSGB Podcast, Zack Walford talks to Ben Ashton and Louis East from afar about FC Dallas‘ fine start to the new MLS season as well as Bradley Wright-Phillips and his New York Red Bulls side after their encouraging start. We also look back at last weekend’s huge Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United and discuss Steven Gerrard after his red card cost the Reds.

We also have a brief chat about the international friendlies for both the USMNT and England National Team.

As always, be sure to get in touch on Twitter: @MLSGB_ or comment below about your thoughts on any of the topics discussed.

MLS Player of the Week: Week 3 – Bradley Wright-Phillips

The third week of the new MLS season is wrapped up and in the books so it’s time to pick our Player of the Week. This week’s award goes to New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips who put in an unstoppable display in the Red Bulls’ home opener to see of DC United 2-0.

Wright-Phillips got his first goal of the season in the first-half and then teed up Lloyd Sam for the second goal of the game to seal a first league win of the season against last season’s Eastern Conference toppers.

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BWP tied the single-season goalscoring record in MLS last season with 27 goals but much of the talk through the offseason was about how he would cope with the loss of Thierry Henry, who provided the Englishman with so many chances last year.

Well, early signs suggest it’s the same old Bradley Wright-Phillips and he will hope to replicate the display he put in against DC United for much of the season.

Bradley Wright-Phillips' statistics from the 2-0 win against DC United (Stats via Squawka)

Bradley Wright-Phillips’ statistics from the 2-0 win against DC United (Stats via Squawka)

The 30-year-old striker created four chances for his teammates and managed to get all four of his shots on target in an impressive all-round performance.

He completed 93% of his passes and had over 50 touches on the ball. Displays like that for the rest of the season will keep the Red Bulls in fine shape.

Wright-Phillips took his goal excellently too as he plucked the ball out of the air before setting himself up for a fine volley. He’ll take confidence from that goal and will hope to build on it when he faces the Columbus Crew next weekend.

How good was Bradley Wright-Phillips this weekend? Was he your Player of the Week too?

Weighing up the 2015 MLS Top Scorer Candidates

As we draw closer to the new campaign Lewis Addley has a look at who could be the top goalscorer come the end of the 2015 season. In no particular order here are the top five candidates, followed by a selection of those who will hot on their tails.

  • Bradley Wright Phillips: The New York Red Bulls goal machine has to be a considered once again. His record-tying 27 goal tally in the regular season last time out was an astonishing total which he will be eager to better this season. Without the support of Thierry Henry he will have to work extra hard and teams across the league will be aware of how dangerous he is.
  • Dom Dwyer: Sporting Kansas City’s very own Englishman. The 24-year-old was runner up to BWP last season with his tally of 22. Dwyer will be looking to impress once again and will want to emulate his form going into the new campaign. If he continues to be as deadly in the box while remaining fit, we could have a real long-term gem working his way up the all-time MLS goalscoring list.

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  • David Villa: New York City’s new superstar doesn’t need much of an introduction. The Spanish goal machine has scored countless times for all the clubs he has played for and is the highest goalscorer in the Spanish National Team’s history. Villa will be playing alongside Patrick Mullins and MLS rookie Khiry Shelton, with all three players looking to prove why they signed for the expansion franchise. Villa could find himself wide left instead of spearheading the NYCFC forward line, a position he has played very effectively for both Barcelona and Spain, so his position will determine just how many times he finds the net in 2015.
  • Robbie Keane: The veteran 34-year-old cannot go without a mention. Scoring the winning goal in extra-time of the MLS Cup final in December shows he still has the legs and hunger to find the back of the net. His tally of 19 last season is impressive considering he was playing alongside Gyasi Zardes and Landon Donovan, who scored 26 goals combined. Keane is still a star and as long as he is playing, LA Galaxy will score goals.

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  • Obafemi Martins: The Nigerian striker was the Seattle Sounders’ top scorer last season and he will be looking to help the Sounders retain their MLS Supporters’ Shield this year. With the help of Clint Dempsey we can expect Seattle goals to be spread around again. ‘Obagoal’ will want to break the 20 goal mark in 2015 as he came close to doing so last campaign.

Close runners: 

  • Jozy Altidore: Expect the big man to find his goalscoring form now he is back home in MLS with Toronto after difficult spells with Premier League sides, Sunderland and Hull City in recent years. If he can find his feet quickly he could be unstoppable.

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  • Erick Torres: The Mexican’s impressive tally of 15 last season with Chivas led to his move to the Houston Dynamo and he will hope to recapture his form in front of goal when he eventually joins up with his new teammates.
  • Patrick Mullins: If, as mentioned above, Mullins is to play through the middle with Villa out-wide it could be another partnership like Henry and BWP. Mullins showed real promise with New England in 2014 and could be set for a big year in New York City.

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  • Clint Dempsey: Again, as mentioned above, ‘Deuce’ was in with a share of the Sounders goals last campaign and his killer instinct in the box makes him a deadly forward every time he takes to the field.
  • Gyasi Zardes: The emerging USMNT star netted 16 goals last season but he will expect to improve on that tally this season. The 23-year-old has bags of confidence and ability to go with it.

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How will New York Red Bulls cope with life after Thierry Henry?

Losing a player of Thierry Henry‘s quality and presence is never an ideal situation, but it’s the one that New York Red Bulls are now currently faced with.

Henry scored 10 goals in 2014, but perhaps more importantly, he made 15 assists over the course of the regular season and the MLS playoffs combined.

A large proportion of the credit for the Red Bulls success last season will have been given to Bradley Wright-Phillips for his scintillating goalscoring form, but it will be interesting to see how he manages now that his key creator is no longer around.

Thierry Henry played the role of provider for nine of the goals that Wright-Phillips scored last season which accounts for just under one third of his overall combined total of 31.

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Upon equalling the record for most goals in one MLS regular season, Bradley Wright-Phillips has since been rewarded with a designated player contract.

And with no clarification over Tim Cahill’s future as yet, there may still be two DP slots available should he decide to move on to pastures new.

It will then be down to whether or not the Red Bulls choose to fill the spaces, but it certainly allows them the option to bring in world-class talent in an attempt to replace the legendary Frenchman.

The assumption would be that New York are currently on the hunt for an attacking player to partner BWP in 2015 as Henry has played such a crucial role for the last four years, so that void will certainly need to be filled.

Can New York Red Bulls cope with life after Thierry Henry?

2014 MLS Season Review: New York Red Bulls

Eastern Conference final Position: 4th

Eastern Conference Playoffs: Conference Final

Review

The New York Red Bulls had a successful campaign in many respects. Their regular season form was far from consistent but they reached the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season and went further than in any of the previous four by reaching the Eastern Conference Championship game in which they lost to the New England Revolution.

The fans witnessed French legend Thierry Henry play in Red Bull colours for the final season and a new era is on the horizon for New York in 2015. Bradley Wright-Phillips was in electrifying form in front of goal in 2014 and the Red Bulls have a new hero to call on in front of goal now.

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Best Moment

Overcoming top seeded DC United to reach the Eastern Conference Final in the MLS Playoffs. The Red Bulls progressed by winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Worst Moment

After the completion of their season, Thierry Henry announced he would not be returning to play for the Red Bulls for the 2015 season. A huge loss both on the field and off of it as well.

Player of the Year

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Bradley Wright-Phillips – BWP has been the catalyst to this formidable Red Bulls attack and has an incredible goal tally of 31 goals over the course of the entire season. A great year for the Englishman and he will hope to replicate that form in 2015. He tied the all-time single-season MLS goalscoring record with 27 in the regular season and has been simply sensational.

Biggest Win

New York Red Bulls 4-0 Houston Dynamo (April 23 2014)

Biggest Defeat

LA Galaxy 4-0 New York Red Bulls (September 29 2014)

What to improve on for 2015 season

The Red Bulls first and foremost need to replace Thierry Henry. The versatile forward has been sensational once again this season and has been the main provider for BWP.

Strengthening defensively will help to decrease the amount of goals they concede and possibly a strong defensive midfield addition will support their frail defence. It will be a crucial offseason for the club and they will need to make sure the squad is filled with quality before the start of the 2015 campaign.

Bradley Wright-Phillips replaces Thierry Henry as designated player with Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls have rewarded Bradley Wright-Phillips for his remarkable 2014 season by signing him to a designated player contract for next season.

The club wasted no time in replacing Thierry Henry as a DP as Wright-Phillips joins Tim Cahill on the list after netting 31 goals this year.

The Englishman enjoyed his first full season in MLS as he tied the all-time single-season scoring record in Major League Soccer with 27 goals.

Bradley Wright-Phillips 2014 regular season goal reel (via New York Red Bulls on YouTube):

“Following his outstanding performances in 2014, which produced 31 goals in all competitions, the club has decided to make Bradley Wright-Phillips a MLS Designated Player,” New York Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh said.

“Bradley is not only a prolific goal scorer, he is an excellent professional and a great team player who will be a big asset to the club in the coming seasons.”

New York will still be looking to bring in another designated player to fill the void left by Thierry Henry’s departure and Bradley’s brother Shaun Wright-Phillips is certainly a possible target.

The Red Bulls forward became the first player in the club’s history to score more than 20 goals in a single season and he will look to start the next campaign as he ended this one.

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He scored four in four during the playoffs as New York reached the Eastern Conference final before being eliminated by the New England Revolution.

The announcement to make him a designated player comes at a good time for the Red Bulls as interest from across Europe was beginning to mount with the January transfer window just around the corner.

Wright-Phillips will now be hoping to build on what was a memorable campaign, but he will need to do so without Thierry Henry as the pressure on BWP will only increase going forwards.

Does Bradley Wright-Phillips deserve to be a designated player for the Red Bulls?

Playoff Preview and Prediction: D.C United vs New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls take a 2-0 lead to RFK Memorial Stadium on Saturday night in the second-leg of their Eastern Conference semi-final, and D.C United has it all to do to overturn the deficit.

Firstly, the home side have to make more scoring chances, as they looked like a defensive team in a training session during the second-half of the first-leg last week.

And more importantly they have to tighten up defensively. For both goals on Sunday night they were opened up by the formidable Red Bulls attack, as Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips were given too much time and space on many occasions.

Having enjoyed 53% of the possession, we were hoping there would be more life in United; with Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson nullified by the Red Bulls defense.

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D.C being at home in this game may sway the momentum and we may get a classic. However, it’s hard to see D.C shutting out the Red Bulls, and if that’s the case they will need at least four goals to progress. Though with a keeper of Bill Hamid’s quality, D.C always has a chance of keeping a clean sheet, and they did in this fixture twice in the regular season.

D.C’s home record: Played 17 – Won 11 – Drawn 4 – Lost 2

This one could go down to the wire, as both sides have been sublime as of late. But one of them has to exit the competition.

Their long-time rivalry means it could be an aggressive match and that will suit New York more than the hosts, as the Red Bulls know that they need to just remain tight and organised to keep the clock ticking.

New York’s away record: Played 17 – Won 3 – Drawn 7 – Lost 7

The Red Bulls are taking an impressive 1,000 fans to D.C for the away-leg and that support will be key, as we should see a fantastic atmosphere for the game.

New York lost 1-0 and then 2-0 at D.C earlier in the regular season and the same result as the latter here would force the game to extra-time and potentially penalties, in what should be a drama-filled night regardless.

Key Stat: The first-leg saw D.C fail to score for the first time in an MLS Playoffs match since 2007.

Key Player: Fabian Espindola – The Red Bulls look favorites, but if D.C are going to progress, expect the former-Red Bull to be key.

D.C’s last five: D/W/W/D/L

New York’s last five: W/W/L/W/W

Prediction: D.C United 2 – 1 New York Red Bulls. Should be a tight contest, but New York to seal their place in the Eastern Conference final come the end of the game.

Thierry Henry backs Bradley Wright-Phillips for MLS MVP award

New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry has backed teammate Bradley Wright-Phillips in the race for Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player award for the 2014 season.

Wright-Phillips tied the single season goalscoring record with his brace against Sporting Kansas City in the final regular season game on Sunday, as he equalled Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter’s record of 27 goals in one season.

And Henry believes that his consistency over the course of the season make it hard to overlook the Englishman.

“No disrespect to anyone, Bradley’s been doing that since Day 1, not finished well, not played well in the middle or started well. He started, was still there in the middle and finished strong.

“He played well from the beginning. And the [MVP award] is for the player of the season. Player of the season, not the last three months, not the middle months, not the five first games. Player of the season.

“Did you play well the whole season? How many games has Bradley had? Thirty-two. That’s why for me he will get my vote,” Henry said.

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Robbie Keane, Lee Nguyen and Obafemi Martins are expected to go head-to-head in a three-way battle for the prestigious award, but Wright-Phillips has already beaten all of those to one award this season.

His 27 goals saw him scoop the Budweiser Golden Boot, and although he will be delighted with that, he will still feel he could have broken the MLS single season goalscoring record.

“You saw it when the ref blew the whistle,” Henry said when asked for his thoughts on Wright-Phillips tying the record. “I won’t say what he said, but you could see he was upset. That’s the right attitude, and that’s why he reached that level this year because he wanted more and more and more.”

“If you look at the amount of goals he missed one-v-one with the ‘keeper, and I’m not having a go, that’s what I kept putting in his head because you want that guy [motivated]. Because let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if we would’ve made the playoffs.”

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The Red Bulls have made the playoffs, and will face up against last year’s MLS Cup winners Sporting Kansas City at Red Bull Arena on Thursday night in the Eastern Conference knockout round.

Henry could be playing his last games for the club as his future is up in the air, but a new striking sensation has proved himself to be the real deal, and Wright-Phillips will need to keep scoring goals if New York are to go far in the playoffs.

Does Bradley Wright-Phillips deserve to win the MVP award?