Union boss labels Red Bulls midfield as ‘best in league’ ahead of weekend clash

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has admitted how difficult it will be to cope with the New York Red Bulls when they meet for an MLS clash at Red Bull Arena on Sunday evening.

“As you look ahead, it doesn’t get any easier with having to go to New York, a rival game, and then also DC at their place, so there will be a little bit of a revenge factor in that one,” he said in yesterday’s press conference.

“So two games coming up on the road against rivals in the Eastern Conference. Obviously every game is a big one in our league because anybody can beat anybody but New York will certainly be a tough task.”

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The Union boss was full of praise for Sunday’s opponents and despite a convincing 3-1 victory in preseason over the Red Bulls, Curtin knows it’s going to be tougher this time around.

“The team that’s in very good form, a team that high presses all over the field, I think the team that has the best midfield in the league going right now between Dax (McCarty), Sacha (Kljestan) and Felipe (Martins).

“A team that if I’m being honest gave us a lot of issues in the preseason even though the scoreline was very much in our favour.

“They created a ton and were very good against us, so a team we respect, we know that are going to be good, a coach I’m very familiar with in Jesse Marsch and any time you go on the road in this league, it’s difficult to get a win but that’s going to have to be our task.”

Can Philadelphia Union get a positive result against the in-form New York Red Bulls at the weekend?

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MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Sunday, May 10th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST – Monday, May 11th)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 4/6 – Draw 14/5 – New York City FC 4/1

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls and New York City FC clash at the Red Bull Arena on Sunday night for the first ever New York derby in MLS history.

The Red Bulls come into the game against their newly formed rivals as strong favourites despite suffering their first defeat of the season away at New England Revolution last time out.

Jesse Marsch‘s side have won three and drawn four of their opening eight matches as well as still remaining undefeated at home and they currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on the teams above them.

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New York Red Bulls have been a joy to watch so far this season with some excellent, entertaining link-up play between the likes of Bradley Wright-Phillips, Lloyd Sam and Felipe Martins. That’s not to mention how impressive both Mike Grella and Sacha Kljestan have been.

It seems unfair to name just a few as the whole squad have in-fact been outstanding, and when you consider that many were expecting the Red Bulls to struggle in 2015, it’s been a very strong start which shows they mean business.

To say that New York City FC’s start to life in MLS has been a struggle would be an understatement. They’ve managed just one win from their first nine games, drawing three and losing five.

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The numbers don’t make for pretty reading for Jason Kreis and his side and the 3-1 defeat at home to Seattle last time out was NYC’s third consecutive loss and the fifth loss in six games.

New York City are eight in the Eastern Conference coming into this game and whichever way you dress it up, they need to improve. And fast. A positive result in the first ever derby match would go a long way to silencing the early critics and laying down a platform on which to build upon.

It promises to be an exciting game and New York City will look to upset all the odds when they take to the Red Bull Arena field, but New York Red Bulls will be confident of inflicting more misery on the men in sky blue.

Team News

New York Red Bulls won’t be able to call upon Sal Zizzo for a few months as he recovers from a broken leg. There are doubts over whether defender Ronald Zubar will feature after he missed the last game with a hamstring injury.

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New York City will be without the injured George John and Tony Taylor as well as the suspended Kwame Watson-Siriboe. Javier Calle, Jason Hernandez and Adam Nemec are all doubts.

Key Points

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

New York City FC’s last five: L/D/L/L/L

Key Stat: Only Montreal Impact have scored fewer goals (5) than New York City (6) in MLS this season and the Impact have played four games less than NYC.

Key Player: Felipe Martins – The Brazilian has been excellent since joining from Montreal Impact and could provide the Red Bulls with the moment of magic that unlocks the NYC defence.

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Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-0 New York City FC – New York Red Bulls haven’t lost just one game this season by fluke, but more because they’ve been impressive. New York City are really struggling and it’s hard to see how they can get anything from this one. With that said, it is a local derby which would suggest that form is irrelevant, although the Red Bulls should still brush them aside.

New York Red Bulls assistant coach Denis Hamlett says his “experience can help”

Denis Hamlett has joined up with Jesse Marsch as the New York Red Bulls assistant coach and is confident that their good relationship can have a positive influence on the club.

The pair previously worked together as the coaching team at Montreal Impact in the 2012 season and achieved a seventh place finish in the Eastern Conference.

When speaking to the New York Red Bulls YouTube channel, Hamlett said, “I’m extremely excited to be here with the staff and working with Jesse. I think the last ten days has gone really well for us in terms of the guys working hard, adjusting to the demands that Jesse wants the team to play.”

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Understanding

“We have a good relationship, but at the same time I think when we get on the field, I understand the things that he wants to get accomplished with the group, so I feel that it’s a good balance of me knowing him, but more importantly just getting stuff done on the field.”

“Because I know him so well, I understand the things that he wants to get accomplished from our days of working together in Chicago, so a lot of the stuff we do is similar.”

“I think my experiences can help him get across the messages that he wants his team to play and look like, and just be there as a good resource, I think that’s important.”

Will Jesse Marsch and Denis Hamlett work well together in 2015?

Is Ronald Zubar the man to fix the New York Red Bulls defensive problems?

New York Red Bulls are a club in transition following the departure of a number of key players since the end of the 2014 season.

They’ve lost numerous defenders in the shape of Ibrahim Sekagya, Ambroise Oyongo, Richard Eckersley and most crucially, their mainstay at centre back, Jamison Olave.

After two years in New York, the Colombian has returned to former club Real Salt Lake where he spent four years between 2008 and 2012, and has certainly left a gaping hole to fill at the heart of the Red Bulls defence.

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They have brought in young defender, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and have also re-signed Damien Perrinelle, but Ronald Zubar has to be seen as the key replacement for Olave.

The 29-year-old Frenchman brings bags of experience into the dressing room having played at Marseille, Wolves and more recently Ajaccio.

It’s crucial that he settles in quickly and adapts to life in MLS because he can almost guarantee that he’s going to be called into action immediately.

Zubar v Olave

Ronald Zubar should prove to be an ideal replacement as his defensive statistics are slightly ahead of Jamison Olave with less goals conceded-per-game when he’s on the pitch.

He also helps provide the team with more regular clean sheets, which is something that the Red Bulls need to desperately improve on, having kept just six in 34 games over the course of the last regular season.

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The New York Red Bulls line-up is going to have a slightly new look about it in 2015, and new head coach Jesse Marsch will be hoping he can get the players to click in order to have a successful campaign.

Marsch seems in confident mood that he’ll be able to do so and told the club website, “once we add Zubar, we’ll have rounded out our team really well. The only other potential piece is figuring out how to complement Bradley Wright-Phillips up top, or at times if he’s not available, that we’re confident and always can supplement that role as well.”

Is Ronald Zubar the man to steady the ship at New York Red Bulls?

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?

Thierry Henry: The living legend – A look at the New York Red Bulls stars MLS numbers

Legend is a word sometimes brandished loosely, but in the case of Thierry Henry, it’s about the only word that does him and his achievements justice.

No one knows what his next move will be since his recent departure from the New York Red Bulls, but one thing that is certain is that he has enjoyed an illustrious career and his services to soccer will never be forgotten.

Here is a breakdown of Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls career:

Titi Red Bulls in numbers

Statistically, 2012 was Henry’s best season in Major League Soccer as he recorded his highest goals tally in one MLS season, his best goals-per-game ratio, goals-per-minute ratio and goals contributed.

His final season saw him take on the role of provider and he notched 14 assists (his highest number of assists in one MLS season), many of which would have been for top goalscorer Bradley Wright-Phillips who has become a designated player since Henry’s departure.

Four years and five seasons at the Red Bulls brought some moments to remember and here is his time at the New York club in numbers:

Rumours are swelling about his next step with many linking him with a possible return to Arsenal – perhaps in a non-playing role – but whatever happens, everyone in MLS and at MLSGB will miss seeing him play in the USA.

What will be the next move for Thierry Henry?