Can the Red Bulls lay a marker down at LAFC?

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Sunday’s matinee contest in MLS sees the Red Bulls go to LAFC. New York tangles with the black-and-gold Los Angeles outfit for just the third time ever, and this one is the most anticipated. These are two the more in-form teams in the league at the moment, with 2nd-place in the East going against 1st place in the West. The two teams are separated by just four points in the Supporters Shield standings, so let’s take a look at how this one shapes up.

The MLS Game of the Week sees LAFC host the Red Bulls

Red Bulls look to cap off excellent week with another road win

It’s been quite a seven days for the red side of New York. Last Sunday, Gerhard Struber’s men got off to a fast start and cruised past Toronto FC in a 2-0 home win. Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan got the goals in recording their second straight league home win. Three days later, the Red Bulls overcame a rough and tough first half to power past NYCFC, 3-0 in the Open Cup Quarterfinals. Once more, Morgan and Luquinhas were on the scoresheet, proving themselves to be a formidable pairing.

“Having someone like him [Luquinhas], he’s been great” Morgan said post-game. “He’s came in and hit the ground running, and I think everyone can see his quality. It’s a pleasure to play with him as all the guys”.

Now it’s onto Sunday, where if they get a result at LAFC, then you can make the argument that the Red Bulls are amongst the league’s elite. However, the Red Bulls have lost their last two road games, both 2-0 defeats at Inter Miami and Charlotte FC. Despite this, New York still owns the best road record in all of MLS.

“I think the last two road losses, we had a great start to the game but then we kind of hit a low and lost our momentum” Sean Nealis said. “As seen with the recent NYC game, we just have to kind of dig deep at times and get that momentum back slowly but surely. We’re feeling good going into this week with two wins this week, and I think it should be a good one”. A draw would be nice to restore road form. But if the Red Bulls go to the Banc and win, eyebrows will be raised and people will take serious notice.

LAFC look to extend lead in Western Conference, Shield standings

It’s been quite the turnaround for LAFC this year. After missing the playoffs in 2021, this team has hit the ground running and lead the way in MLS. Thirty points accumulated thus far, with the second best goal differential at 13. The first team to score 30 goals, averaging two goals a game, by far the best attack in the league. Leading that attack is Carlos Vela, with six goals and 2 assists in the league. At 33, he’s back to his best, with Gerhard Struber saying he is sometimes “playing like a teenager”.

This team has spread the goals around, making them a well-oiled machine. First-year manager Steve Cherundolo has worked his magic, and is surely the leading candidate for Coach of the Year. “It’s a team [Red Bulls] who works extremely hard, very clear style of play and quite successful at it” previewed Cherundolo. “It’s going to be a difficult match for us, both teams will have to deal with a little bit of heat, not too bad”. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is questionable to play in this game.

Last week saw LAFC eek out a 1-1 draw at the Seattle Sounders. Cristian Arango grabbed his fourth goal of the campaign, in a see-saw game between Western Conference contenders. Against the Red Bulls, they’ll enjoy the lion share of possession, and will look for individual moments that can break down the opponent. It’s going to a fascinating tactical battle to watch on ABC, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 3pm. Two of the leagues best teams going at it, in what really is an overall great slate of matchups. A win for the home side will only reassure everyone around the league that this is the team to beat in all of MLS.

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