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

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. DC United

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Sunday, March 22 – 17:00 ET (21:00 GMT – Live on Sky Sports 5)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 10/11 – Draw 5/2 – DC United 3/1

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls host DC United in their first home game of the new MLS season on Sunday evening. This has the potential to be a cracker as the Eastern Conference sides renew one of the oldest MLS rivalries as they go head-to-head for the Atlantic Cup once again.

With both sides hopeful of a playoff berth again this season, New York and DC will both see this as a must win game – even if only for the bragging rights at this early stage of the campaign.

The Red Bulls have had a turbulent offseason after losing the great Thierry Henry as well as Tim Cahill and head coach Mike Petke, but have managed to shore up their defence with the addition Ronald Zubar and have also strengthened in midfield with Sacha Kljestan coming in.

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Both sides were on bye weeks last weekend so will come into the game fresh and both will be looking for all three points.

The Red Bulls earned a hard fought point away to Sporting Kansas City in their opening game and will need to be at their best once again if they are to get a result from this one.

Ben Olsen’s DC United are one of the favourites to retain their Eastern Conference title this season as they look like a dangerous side despite playing without two of their best players in Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson.

The 1-0 win against the Montreal Impact looks like a great result as Montreal are significantly better than last season so far and have reached the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

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However, we are expecting the Red Bulls to challenge USMNT goalkeeper Bill Hamid on Sunday night in what should be a close encounter.

With the joint-best defence in 2014, DC United will provide a real test for Bradley Wright-Phillips and his Red Bulls teammates this weekend in what has the potential to be the game of the weekend. For any UK fans reading, it’s live on Sky Sports 5 and isn’t one you want to miss.

Team News

New York Red Bulls: Peguy Luyindula could come in for Mike Grella on the left wing. Roy Miller is a doubt but is expected to feature at left-back. Ronald Zubar has a hamstring problem but he is also expected to make the starting lineup.

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DC United: Eddie Johnson, Luis Silva and Markus Halsti are all out. Michael Seaton is a doubt and Fabian Espindola is still serving a ban that won’t see him return until Week 7. Taylor Kemp could start at left-back but is a doubt with a groin injury.

Key Points

New York Red Bulls’ form: D

DC United’s form: W

Key Stat: Bradley Wright-Phillips failed to register a single shot and only had one touch in the box when the Red Bulls played Sporting Kansas City on the opening weekend.

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Key Player: Jairo Arrieta – New DC United striker, Jairo Arrieta arrived via a trade with Orlando and scored in his first game against Montreal last time out. With Espindola and Johnson both out, Arrieta will be the main threat in front of goal.

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 1-2 DC United – This one could go either way, but DC United may edge this after being eliminated from the playoffs by the Red Bulls last term. Will revenge be served at Red Bull Arena on Sunday?

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MLS TV views up 53% in the UK this weekend, more than top European games

Major League Soccer is growing here in the UK at an alarming rate and the Sky Sports television deal is clearly helping that. This weekend saw a 53% rise in the number of people watching the live 9PM game between New York City FC and New England Revolution on Sunday night.

Over 55,000 people tuned in to watch NYCFC record their first ever win as an MLS franchise in their historic home opener as they beat the Revs 2-0. 36,000 fans watched NYCFC’s game with Orlando City last Sunday at the same time so 19,000 more fans tuned in in what is an impressive increase.

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One downside was the number of Brits who stayed up late to watch the 11PM game between the Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy. Only 13,000 stayed up for that 2-2 draw at Providence Park – almost half of the 25,000 people who stayed awake for last weekend’s late game.

The Sky deal is clearly boosting MLS across the pond though and this weekend saw more British supporters watching NYCFC vs New England than those who tuned in to see Lionel Messi’s Barcelona against Eibar (35,000) on Saturday.

That Liga BBVA game was live on Sky at the same time as the Premier League clash between Burnley and Manchester City though and that obviously had an effect.

The key for Major League Soccer this weekend was that both games were aired on Sky Sports’ primary channel, Sky Sports 1, whereas last week saw the games shown on Sky Sports 3.

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The 55k Brits who watched the 9PM match were more than those who watched games from some of Europe’s top leagues this weekend, including the Bundesliga clash between Borussia Dortmund and Cologne (21,000), French league action between Bordeaux and PGG (25,000) and a considerable amount more than those who watched the Serie A clash between Cagliari and Empoli (6,000).

These are evidently great signs for MLS and an ever-increasing support base from the UK will only help the league grow into an elite league even faster.

Next weekend’s live coverage on Sky will see NYCFC in action for the third week running as they travel to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at 8PM before showing the Eastern Conference clash between New York Red Bulls and DC United at 9PM on Sunday night.

Both games are on Sky Sports 5 this weekend and it will be intriguing to see if the number of UK fans tuning in rises for a third consecutive week.

How important do you think a strong UK fanbase is for the growth of MLS?

Liverpool legend says Premier League is “miles away” as Chelsea eliminated from Champions League

Chelsea have been eliminated from the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain on away goals after their round of sixteen tie ended 3-3 on aggregate, sparking comments from former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher that the Premier League is “miles away” from being the best in the world.

The Blues drew 1-1 in Paris two weeks ago but could not beat a PSG side who earned an impressive 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge after extra-time despite playing for 90 minutes with ten men as star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off after half an hour.

Gary Cahill put Chelsea 1-0 up with ten minutes of normal time to go but former defender David Luiz equalised just five minutes later to send the game to extra-time.

Eden Hazard restored Chelsea’s lead from the penalty spot after Thiago Silva handled the ball in the box but the powerful Brazilian centre-back steered his fine header past Thibaut Courtois with just six minutes left, sending PSG through to the quarter-finals on away goals.

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Jamie Carragher, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, believes the result proves Premier League clubs are still nowhere near good enough to win Europe’s elite competition.

“The Premier League is miles behind other leagues. Best league in the world? Give me a break,” he said speaking on Sky Sports immediately after the game.

“We’re meant to be the best [league] in the world with the best players. We are being kidded. We are miles away.”

Chelsea have joined Liverpool as the second English club to be eliminated from this season’s Champions League before the quarter-final stage as the Reds were knocked out in the group stages.

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Arsenal and Manchester City remain in the competition but both lost their round of sixteen home legs against AS Monaco and FC Barcelona respectively.

The Gunners head to France next Tuesday, trailing 3-1, while City will need to overturn a 2-1 deficit at the Nou Camp next Wednesday.

Do you agree with Jamie Carragher? Is the Premier League “miles away” from being the best league in the world?

MLS makes big splash across the pond as 36,000 watch live on Sunday

By Keave TollingtonTwitter: @KeaveT

Over 36,000 British MLS and football fans tuned in to watch Orlando City vs New York City last night on Sky Sports 3 with 25,000 of them staying on for the later game between Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls.

The phrases “MLS”, “Kaka” and “ORLvNYC” were among the most popular UK Twitter trends late on Sunday night as Major League Soccer made a real splash across the pond.

On first glance at these figures it will become apparent that they are nowhere near the millions that Sky Sport’s regularly pull in for Barclays Premier League matches. However for matches played late on a Sunday night which received minimal advertisement prior, this is an impressive count, and one that will likely rise throughout the year.

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Major League Soccer had struggled to gain traction across the Atlantic for most of its early existence. Things changed when David Beckham made the move to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 as MLS started to become more talked about in the UK.

The 2015 season has probably been the most anticipated MLS season in both the US and the UK so far. With global legends like Kaka, David Villa, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard taking to the field this year, most Brits are recognising the prosperity and importance of MLS in world football development.

Another factor that has been boosting the growth of MLS as a global franchise was the talent that the US Men’s National Team brought to the World Cup last summer in Brazil. DeAndre Yedlin – a former Seattle Sounders right-back, is one of several USMNT players who exceeded expectations in Rio. Yedlin was quickly offered a contract by Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur and while Yedlin is yet to make an appearance for Spurs, his arrival has caused a considerable amount of interest towards MLS amongst Tottenham fans.

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Sky Sports announced their four-year TV deal with MLS late last month which includes the broadcasting of at least 2 MLS games live each week as well as all the MLS Playoff games and the MLS All-Star game.

That deal has undoubtedly helped to boost the image and reputation of MLS in the UK and the first weekend of live broadcasting has proved to be a success. Viewing figures should rise throughout the year as more and more Brits become fans of MLS.

Upcoming televised games live on Sky Sports in the UK:

Sunday 15th March 2015

New York City FC v New England Revolution – 21:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Portland Timbers v LA Galaxy – 23:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD

Saturday 21st March 2015

Colorado Rapids v New York City FC – 20:00 Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD

Sunday 22nd March 2015

New York Red Bulls v DC United – 21:00 Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD

Saturday 28th March 2015

DC United v LA Galaxy – 23:00 Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD

Sunday 29th March 2015

Chicago Fire v Philadelphia Union – 22:00 Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD

Sky Sports to show MLS doubleheader on Sunday night

Sky Sports will exclusively broadcast live action from Major League Soccer this year for the first of a four-year deal and the first weekend of the season will allow UK fans to enjoy four hours of non-stop MLS action on Sunday night.

The first MLS game to be broadcast on Sky will see the two new MLS Expansion franchises go head-to-head as Orlando City SC take on New York City FC at 21:00 in the UK.

The game will see Kaka face up against David Villa and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3. It will be immediately followed by Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls at 23:00.

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David Villa will face up against Kaka as Orlando City play New York City in the opening game of the 2015 MLS season

Both games should be entertaining as the biggest-ever MLS season is set to get underway in fine style this weekend.

The first game between Orlando and New York City will be made even better by the fact that a huge 60,000 sell-out crowd is expected to be in attendance at the Citrus Bowl in Florida for the Lions’ first-ever MLS game.

The two expansion clubs are rivals because of the fact that they are both entering the league in 2015 and Sunday night’s game is one you don’t want to miss.

The later game between Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls is a repeat of the Eastern Conference playoff game from the 2014 season.

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The Red Bulls came from behind to win 2-1 back in October though New York have seen so much change this offseason, including the loss of Thierry Henry, while Sporting KC have been moved to the Western Conference ahead of the 2015 campaign.

Both clubs have English strikers who were the two highest goalscorers in MLS last year as Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dom Dwyer set the league alight.

Both Dwyer and Wright-Phillips will want to hit the ground running in Sunday’s game and that is another one you don’t want to miss.

Sky Sports confirm four-year TV deal to show live MLS in the UK

Sky Sports have confirmed that they will exclusively broadcast live Major League Soccer games in the UK this season, starting in March when the 2015 campaign is set to get underway.

The UK’s biggest sports broadcaster is expected to show two live games each week in what is an enormous step for the growth of MLS, particularly here in Great Britain as football fans will now have access to one of the world’s most exciting leagues on a regular basis.

Sky Sports will broadcast at least two MLS regular-season matches each week, as well as the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, every MLS Cup Playoff game, and the MLS Cup final.

Sky will also broadcast weekly MLS highlights across their various platforms in what is another major step for the league.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will complete their moves to LA Galaxy and New York City FC respectively this summer and they will be just two of many stars from the UK and Ireland.

Robbie Keane has been sensational for the LA Galaxy for numerous years and he claimed the MLS Most Valuable Player award at the end of the 2014 campaign.

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Other names UK fans may recognise include Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls), Nigel Reo-Coker (Montreal Impact), Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers), Lloyd Sam (New York Red Bulls), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City) and Steven Caldwell (Toronto FC).

Gary Stevenson is the President and Managing Director of MLS Business Ventures and he is excited about the partnership between MLS and Sky Sports.

“As MLS continues to grow into a global brand, we are excited to partner with Sky Sports, a leader in the UK TV market, to bring the sport to millions of soccer fans.

“2015 is a milestone year for MLS including new stars, new clubs and a new brand. Sky Sports will help continue to grow the League and its Clubs worldwide.”

David Beckham is the man who changed the perception of MLS when he moved to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 and he is excited about the announcement.

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“This is another important moment that shows the continued growth of MLS,” Beckham told Sky Sports on confirmation of the deal.

“I have seen first-hand how popular soccer has become in America. Having fantastic partners such as Sky Sports on board will not only add to the coverage of the game, it will also broaden its appeal outside of US.”

Beckham is an ambassador for Sky Sports as is former New York Red Bulls and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. The Frenchman only recently joined Sky after retiring at the end of the 2014 MLS season.

Henry also helped to grow the league in his four-and-a-half-year stay in New York and he knows that MLS will be “huge” in the immediate future.

“I will never forget my time playing in MLS – it gave me some great memories and I was proud to play a role in growing the game,” Henry said.

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“I saw the passion of the fans in the US. They have always had it for other sports but they also have it for football now and it’s going to be huge in years to come. Sky Sports is the best place for the game, to bring it closer to fans in the UK and build MLS even more.”

The 2015 season is set to get underway in nine days with reigning champions, LA Galaxy hosting Chicago Fire in the season opener on Friday, March 6.

What do you make of the Sky Sports deal to show live MLS games?

Groundbreaking TV deal will see MLS shown live in UK twice per week – report

The day has finally come. Major League Soccer is set to be shown live on television in the UK on a weekly basis in a move that will help the league grow enormously.

ESPN’s Taylor Twellman revealed the news on Twitter today as he tweeted: “Big news here at the MLS broadcast meetings that Sky Sports will carry two games per week”.

MLS signed a huge TV deal for coverage in the United States last year and now live coverage is set to extend across the Atlantic to the UK.

Sky Sports are the country’s number one sports broadcaster and currently show live coverage of the Premier League, Champions League, English Football League, Scottish football, Spanish football and Dutch football’s Eredivisie action.

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Sky Sports are the UK’s biggest sports broadcaster

 

Showing two MLS games per week will seriously improve the number of MLS fans from abroad, and will show UK football lovers just how good a league MLS has become.

BT Sport are Sky Sports’ biggest rival and they showed any MLS action last year but the failure to cover live games on a regular basis halted any growth from across the pond.

Sky show three Premier League games per week so to have two MLS matches shows they are taking the league seriously.

Recently retired New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry recently joined Sky Sports as a pundit and the Frenchman could offer analysis and insight if Sky have their own broadcast team in place.

Thierry Henry as a pundit on Sky Sports (via Sky Sports)

Thierry Henry as a pundit on Sky Sports (via Sky Sports)

it’s unclear what sort of times games will be shown on Sky Sports as some matches could start in the early hours of the morning. But that hasn’t stopped incredible numbers of people watching NFL action from here in the UK in recent years and MLS will hopefully garner the same support.

We’ll bring you more details when they are revealed by the league and/or by Sky Sports. But this is looking like a major breakthrough for MLS.

How important is live coverage in the UK for the growth of MLS?

Arsene Wenger says Thierry Henry “was one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen”

Manager Arsene Wenger was asked about how he reflects on the career of Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry, in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Liverpool game at Anfield this Sunday.

The Frenchman said, “I would like to thank him for what he has done for the club and what a huge success he has been for us. He was of course an exceptional football player.

“Thierry especially was a combination of huge physical talent, technical talent, but as well special intelligence.

“He was one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few good ones.”

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Henry has taken on a role as a pundit for Sky Sports but is also keen to gain his coaching badges, although Wenger has warned him of the pain that comes with being a football coach.

“He has enjoyed it, now it’s time to suffer as well for him. Coaching is enjoyable but it is as well suffering.

“It’s not as easy to get everybody to score the goals that he scored.”

As well as reminiscing over Thierry Henry, Wenger was in a confident mood and says that Arsenal have “very good memories at Liverpool” despite last season’s 5-1 thrashing.

“Liverpool scored over 100 goals last year. This year they have scored 19, so they are not on the same trend offensively.”

Will Arsenal win at Anfield on Sunday? And was Thierry Henry one of the greatest players ever?

UK TV coverage must increase for MLS to thrive abroad

Major League Soccer is continuing to grow at a rapid rate, and plenty of football fans in the UK are having their heads turned by the growth of soccer in the US.

The playoffs are fast approaching, and the post-season games this year should be the most watched in the history of the league, but there is still so much more than can be done in the UK to increase the popularity of MLS.

Television coverage in the UK is not good enough at the moment, and although BT Sport show some of the action from across the pond, soccer on the big screen in Britain gets nowhere near as much coverage as leagues across Europe get.

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The kick-off times for many matches make it difficult to attract large audiences, yes, but that does not mean that regular games cannot be screened live.

MLS in America has been given a major TV boost stateside as the new television deal that was announced earlier this season is reportedly worth an estimated $90 million per year – three times more than the previous deal.

Major League Soccer is undoubtedly here to stay, and the league will continue to grow, both in terms of teams and in terms of viewing figures around the globe, and UK fans deserve better coverage.

A weekly highlights show is a must. Match of the Day attracts millions of viewers in Britain every week to watch highlights from across the Premier League, and many European leagues have highlights shows on either Sky Sports or BT Sports through the week to keep fans updated with everything that’s going on.

With Frank Lampard set to start his MLS career with New York City FC in March, more UK football fans will start paying attention to the league, but it must be easier to do so.

The NFL is rapidly growing in popularity in Britain, and a weekly highlights show on Channel 4 keeps fans up to date with all the action in the most simple way possible, and MLS deserves to be treated the same way from next year.

BT Sport are more than likely to retain MLS coverage next year, and a weekly highlights show would go a long way to helping the league gain more and more fans from the other side of the pond.

Does Major League Soccer need a weekly highlights show in the UK?