MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs DC United

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Semifinal Second Leg) – New York Red Bulls vs. DC United

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Sunday, November 8 – 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 4/9 – Draw 7/2 – DC United 6/1

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls welcome DC United to Red Bull Arena on Sunday afternoon for the second leg of their MLS Eastern Conference semifinal.

The Red Bulls returned home from DC last weekend with an excellent 1-0 win that puts them firmly in the driving seat in this tie, knowing they’ve scored a crucial away goal.

Dax McCarty’s headed finish following Sacha Kljestan’s floated free-kick in the 72nd minute gave New York the advantage, and Jesse Marsch will be confident his side can see out the job on home soil.

DC United vs New York Red Bulls Dax McCarty

The victory against DC was the perfect way for the Red Bulls to follow on from sealing the Supporters’ Shield title, showing they mean business and that they haven’t lost their focus – it also marked their third consecutive win.

DC United looked tired and slightly bereft of ideas as they struggled to break down a strong Red Bulls team – not even their usually reliable home form could help them salvage anything from the first leg.

Ben Olsen may be tempted to send his players out with orders to attack straight from the off in the hope of creating a realistic chance to progress, although that’s a tactic that could play into the hands of a New York side so dangerous on the counter-attack.

DC United vs New York Red Bulls Sacha Kljestan Perry Kitchen

DC have lost seven of their last ten games, so it may pay for them to try and keep things tight and hope they can pinch a goal. It’s a tough task but if they have any aspirations of winning the MLS Cup, then now is the time to really stand up and be counted.

New York Red Bulls haven’t lost any of the four meetings with DC in 2015 (W3, D1) and the last time they lost at home to DC was in December 2012.

Team News

New York Red Bulls will be without regular centre-back, Damien Perrinelle, for the rest of the season after he suffered a knee injury in the first leg. Ronald Zubar will be expected to deputise in his absence. Defender Chris Duvall (leg) and striker Anatole Abang (hamstring) both remain out.

DC United have doubts over the fitness of midfielders Chris Pontius (hamstring) and Michael Farfan (undisclosed), as well as defender Sean Franklin (achilles). All three could miss this crucial second leg, while Chris Korb (knee), Davy Arnaud (concussion) and Jared Jeffrey (face) remain out.

Key Points

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

DC United’s last five: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat: New York Red Bulls have scored at least one goal in each of their last 24 games.

Key Player: Mike Grella – He has perhaps been somewhat an unsung hero in 2015. With great performances from the likes of BWP, Lloyd Sam and Sacha Kljestan taking the limelight, it’s also worth noting how crucial Grella has been. He’s scored nine goals and made seven assists this season, making him a vital cog in the Red Bulls machine.

DC United vs New York Red Bulls Mike Grella

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-1 DC United – You can’t help feeling that New York Red Bulls have one foot in the conference final, although there is still hard work to be done. DC United certainly face an uphill struggle, but they will throw everything they have at this game as there’s nothing to lose. Ultimately though, the Red Bulls should see it through.

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MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: DC United vs New York Red Bulls

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Semifinal First Leg) – DC United vs. New York Red Bulls

Venue: RFK Stadium – Sunday, November 1 – 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)

Match Odds: DC United 9/5 – Draw 13/5 – New York Red Bulls 13/10

Match Preview

DC United and New York Red Bulls clash at RFK Stadium on Sunday in the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinal.

The match-up between these two sides sees a repeat of last season’s tie at this same stage, although DC will play the first-leg at home this time around due to their lower seeding.

DC secured their place in the semifinal by bouncing back from a crushing 5-0 defeat away at Columbus on the last day of the regular season to beat New England Revolution 2-1 in the Eastern Conference knockout round.

Ben Olsen will be delighted with his side’s strong reaction, which secured a third win in four games and keeps alive their hopes of winning an MLS Cup for the first time since 2004.

DC United vs New England Revolution

Revenge will be in the air at RFK Stadium after the Red Bulls knocked DC out of the competition a year ago, with a 3-2 aggregate score over the two legs.

The New York Red Bulls will be refreshed and full of confidence after they’ve enjoyed a week off to relish the fact they’re Supporters’ Shield winners for the second time in three years.

Jesse Marsch has inspired his team to an excellent season but must now ensure the players maintain their focus if they are to sustain a serious challenge at winning the 2015 MLS Cup.

The Red Bulls fell short in 2014 after a conference final defeat, but the platform to go all the way is now in place and they just need to continue their impressive form of 12 wins in their last 17 games (D1, L4).

Photo: Denise McCooey

DC United failed to beat New York Red Bulls in any of the three meetings between the two sides in the regular season (D1, L2), with the most recent clash ending in a 3-0 win for the Red Bulls in August, while the last encounter at RFK Stadium was a 2-2 draw in April.

Team News

DC United will be without Chris Korb (knee), Davy Arnaud (concussion) and Jared Jeffrey (facial fracture) who are all injured. Bobby Boswell will miss the match as a result of a one-game ban issued by the league for an off the ball incident against New England on Thursday.

New York Red Bulls defender Chris Duvall remains out (leg), while Roy Miller (knee) and Anatole Abang (hamstring) are also struggling with injuries.

Key Points

DC United’s last five: L/W/W/L/W

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

Key Stat: New York Red Bulls were the highest goalscorers in the MLS regular season with 62, so they’ll be looking to continue scoring freely and get that all important away goal.

Key Player: Chris Rolfe – An obvious choice, but he is crucial to DC United. He’s their top goalscorer this season, with 11 goals in all competitions. Rolfe also scored a late winner against New England Revolution in the knockout round.

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Score Prediction

DC United 1-1 New York Red Bulls – DC have been strong at home with just 3 defeats all season, so it’s a tough ask for the Red Bulls to win the game. However, they should have enough to get an away goal and secure a draw – a result that would put them in the driving seat for the second leg.

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Columbus Crew

In the build up to the new season we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the Columbus Crew will be looking to achieve this year. 

Columbus Crew will be looking to replicate last season’s form and finish in one of the all important top six spots in the Eastern Conference once again. The Crew have had a relatively busy offseason with more names out than in. Head coach Gregg Berhalter will be pleased with keeping hold of both Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain, both of whom were at the forefront of everything good for the Columbus Crew last campaign.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 3rd – P34 – W14 – D10 – L10

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What needs to change this year?

Crew SC need to find that winning mentality to turn draws into wins on a more regular basis. They drew more games in comparison to DC United and New England Revolution who were the only sides to finish above them in the East last campaign. The disappointment of the playoff drubbing at the hand of New England is something they can use as motivation for success this season.

Kei Kamara will add more goals and the signing of Kristin Steindorsson can bring in creativity as well as goals from midfield while the addition of Chris Klute from Colorado Rapids brings in another defensive option. The fullback featured 25 times for the Rapids last season, with 24 of those as starts, and he will provide cover to the defence. It is going to be a much tougher campaign this season and a strong squad is going to be vital if Columbus Crew are to make the playoffs again.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Kei Kamara – Forward, Ben Swanson – Midfielder (Homegrown Player), Mohammed Saeid – Midfielder, Kristin Steindorsson – Midfielder, Chris Klute – Defender, Hernan Grana – Defender, Cedrick Mabwati – Midfielder (joining in July)

Outs: Ross Friedman – Defender, Matt Wiet – Defender, Josh Williams – Defender, Eric Gehrig – Defender, Ben Sweat – Defender, Fifi Baiden – Midfield, Daniel Paladini – Midfield, Agustin Viana – Midfield, Matt Walker – Midfield, Bernardo Anor – Midfield, Jairo Arrieta – Forward.

Key player: Federico Higuain – Midfield/Forward

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The classy attacking midfielder enjoyed a solid campaign last term and will need to push on and contribute even more to his side, in a similar role of that of Lee Nguyen with the Revs, as much is expected of Higuain ahead of the new season.

One to watch: Adam Bedell – Forward

His rookie season saw him net just twice in 16 appearances but at 6’6″ he towers over defenders and could become a quality target man for Crew SC. It will be interesting to see if he can tie down a starting role.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 4th

We can expect another hard fought season from Columbus Crew, but in a more competitive division they may struggle to match last seasons third place finish. If Kamara can hit the ground running with goals we may well be surprised with what the Black & Gold can achieve and they must find a way to turn draws into wins.

How do you think Columbus Crew will do in 2015?

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.