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New York Red Bulls vs. Chivas USA: Three Questions

Catching up on the Red Bulls ahead of Sunday's match.

Cahill: May get the call to play up top vs. Chivas.
Cahill: May get the call to play up top vs. Chivas.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Chivas USA head to the East Coast for the first time in 2014 this week, for their game on Sunday against the New York Red Bulls (12 pm PT, UniMas). As is usually the case with the Red Bulls, opinions and results are mixed, as they have started this season off slowly for all the talent they have. In order to give us a better sense of what's happening with New York, I spoke with Matt Coyne of SB Nation New York Red Bulls blog Once A Metro about his team ahead of the match. Thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer my questions!

The Goat Parade asks Once a Metro:

1. New York won their first silverware last season, the Supporters' Shield, but they've had a subdued start to this season. Why do you think they've struggled so far?

A lot of it has to do with putting all the parts together. The Red Bulls are a deep team and they can come at you with a few very good line-ups. Unfortunately, Head Coach Mike Petke hasn't found the right one yet.

A big issue has been creativity in the middle. Their first three games, the Red Bulls have put in 30, 29 and 26 crosses, but it's easy to stop the attack when you know that's the tactic. To fix the situation, Petke's taken to dropping Thierry Henry further into the midfield and using Tim Cahill as a center forward. While Henry can do it all offensively and Cahill will do whatever you ask of him, this is a less-than-optimal situation, as it's neither of their best positions.

Many fans have been clamoring for Petke to use Peguy Luyindula as the creative force in the middle of the field. Last season, Luyindula couldn't score with $1,000 in a brothel, but his playmaking ability was evident where his finishing wasn't. When Luyindula's on the field, the offense looks more threatening and it allows Henry to play a little closer to goal, which is where I think we'd all like him.

Unfortunately, based on an interview earlier this week, Petke doesn't seem thrilled with the idea, for whatever reason.

2. Unlike many teams around MLS (including Chivas), the Red Bulls have kept their coach and most of their players from last year. Among the newcomers, who should we pay particular attention to? Anybody who can become a consistent contributor, or even a star?

I'd say Armando, who, apparently, has been one of the Red Bulls' best players this season, but he'll be serving the second half of his two game suspension this weekend, so he'll be unavailable.

An interesting player to watch will be Richard Eckersley. The former Toronto FC right back had a disastrous start to his Red Bulls career, but has improved considerably in his last two games.

3. Chivas have had New York's number in recent years, surprisingly. Given that, and given the tough start, how do you think the Red Bulls will try to beat Chivas this year? Any particular strategy?

Ideally, Petke would come out in a 4-4-1-1, with Dax McCarty, Luyindula and Cahill making the central midfield/withdrawn striker triangle. It's an offensive tandem, but they all have the work rate to play defense, too.

I think what we'll see is another attempt at making a Cahill-Henry striker tandem work. It's a partnership that certainly can work, as Henry likes to get involved in the build up anyway. The issue is you're taking a DP in Cahill and trying to make him play a role he's not really suited to, aside from the fact he's good in the air.

I'd expect the Red Bulls to send in a lot of crosses and to use Henry as a playmaker again, so nothing terribly different than what they did last game.

4. (Bonus) Prediction for this match?

I say 2-1 Red Bulls. It's not going to look good by any means, but they'll figure out a way to get it done.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!