Orlando City-Red Bulls Preview
Following up last year's best-ever regular season was never going to be easy for the New York Red Bulls.
The league's scheduling through the international break adds another layer of challenge this week as the Red Bulls will be without four players when they face full-squad Orlando City SC on Saturday.
Aaron Long, Kaku, Michael Murillo and Kemar Lawrence will all be absent for New York on Saturday as they play with their international teams. New York will also be without wing midfielder Florian Valot, who suffered a torn ACL in last week's 4-1 win over lowly San Jose.
The Red Bulls fell behind against the point-less Earthquakes in the fifth minute and went into halftime with a 1-0 deficit. A four-goal rally in the second half allowed them to collect a comfortable win, but New York coach Chris Armas is looking for more focus Saturday against 0-1-2 Orlando City.
"It's a reminder that no matter who you play or where you play, you have to be ready to play from the start," Armas told media on Wednesday. "But I think what we took from that is that we are a good team. We can be explosive."
One encouraging sign for the Red Bulls going forward was the play of Alex Muyl, who played on the flank after Valot was injured. The 23-year-old midfielder scored twice against San Jose, and two-time MLS Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips added his first league tally of the season.
"We have different guys that can score and different guys that can play and different guys that can assist," Armas said. "It's all about the team here."
Orlando City will look to exploit New York's diminished back line with yearly threat Dom Dwyer, touted newcomer Nani and former Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan.
The Lions are coming off a 3-1 drubbing at the hands of Montreal in which only Dwyer's stoppage-time tally prevented a shutout.
"I think the biggest thing for us is to make sure the players don't get too down over one performance," coach James O'Connor said. "The energy and the enthusiasm - not just from the players but from everyone around the place - was really, really positive. I refuse to let one game now take that away."
Updated March 22, 2019