PREVIEW – Red Bulls host D.C. United Saturday night, as one of the league’s oldest rivalries returns. The two teams have already met earlier this season, a 3-0 domination by the Red Bulls at Audi Field in the Round of 32 U.S. Open Cup. Now, this Atlantic Cup Clasico sees the two teams trending in opposite directions. New York, once more, is going for their first home league win this weekend. Against a D.C. United side who undergone a managerial change and hasn’t tasted victory in a while.
However, these are two teams that play similar styles and could be a showcase for two playmakers. This will be the 85-regular season contest between the two original MLS franchises. And it’s also the last match before the international break.
Red Bulls United rivalry resumes on Saturday night
Red Bulls confident after Open Cup success Wednesday
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) May 23, 2022
The Red Bulls’ historic road form finally took a hit last weekend, in a 2-0 defeat at Inter Miami. The loss was a wake-up call, a reminder that anybody can be beaten in this league. Therefore, the Red Bulls knew they had to correct this, and bounced back with a sweet 3-1 win against Charlotte FC in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16. It marks the clubs’ first Quarterfinal appearance since 2017 when they reached the showpiece final.
In that match, Patryk Klimala was at his best with a goal and an assist. The Polish striker has five goals and four assists in all competitions and could reach double figures in both categories. “This is my game and you know like, we have to play every game like that”, said Klimala. “And I cannot see any defender in our league and any team who can defend our style of playing forward”. Dylan Nealis got his first goal for the club in midweek. Furthermore, we need to talk about Luquinhas for a bit. The Brazilian is a joy to watch on the ball and has three goals and five assists in all competitions. That includes a goal and an assist against United in the Open Cup. He’s a candidate for Newcomer of the Year.
Carlos Coronel returned to the lineup at Montclair. On the injury front, Cameron Harper – who had just returned to the first team – is out with a knee problem. Ashley Fletcher will also miss with the same issue, but Caden Clark is back in full fitness and could feature off the bench. New York is fifth in a tight Eastern Conference. Getting that elusive first home victory will bring much-needed satisfaction to a team that is off to a very good start.
D.C. United hoping to find a winning formula
Things simply haven’t gone according to plan for this franchise. It looked like a promising start with two shutout wins against Charlotte and Cincinnati to start the season. Then the issues came, four straight defeats followed and Hernan Losada got sacked. That’s the short end of it, the long end of it shows more stuff behind the scenes. The club has been consistently inconsistent and is currently on a four-game winless run.
If there’s a light of positivity, it’s in Taxiarchis Fountas. The Greek forward has five goals and an assist in seven matches and is already a focal point in attack. Along with the likes of Edison Flores and Michael Estrada, there is potential for the attack to show better than they currently are. Wandering in 11th place in the East, they’re two points off a playoff spot but it feels they are further away from that. Statistically, United doesn’t get many shots on target, create many chances or score many goals per match. Conversely, the Red Bulls rank amongst the best in MLS in each of those distinctions.
Expect both teams to implement their high pressing up the field. This game could follow a similar pattern to their Open Cup tilt earlier this month. Individual brilliance could secure three points, but New York is favorites for that. D.C. United have only won once on the road, and have as many points on their travels (4) as the Red Bulls, who have yet to win in Harrison. That may be all you need to know about this classic rivalry matchup this weekend.
Embed from Getty Images