Chivas USA get their first chance to bounce back from defeat in 2014 on Sunday when they play the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena (12 pm PT, UniMas). The Goats, of course, are coming off a 3-1 loss to FC Dallas on the road last week, while the Red Bulls drew 1-1 with the Chicago Fire, also on the road. New York haven't won a game yet this season, and the natives are getting restless, especially since they won a trophy last year and everything (also, because restlessness is part and parcel of being a MetroStars/Red Bulls fan).
So who emerges in this one? Maybe the home team, the road team, or neither. You know, like every other match.
Let's preview the game!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 4 points (1-1-1), 6th in Western Conference, 11th place overall; Goal Difference: -1 (5/6); Last three matches: L-D-W
New York Red Bulls: 2 points (0-1-2), 7th in Eastern Conference, 14th place overall; Goal Difference: -3 (3/6); Last three matches: D-D-L
Chivas defense corner
Last week, I turned my attention away from the Goats' defense, and guess what happened? The defense came back down to Earth and couldn't keep out three Dallas goals. The defense remains a concern, especially with the injuries to Bobby Burling and Oswaldo Minda. Though Minda isn't a defender, of course, he shields the backline as the midfield destroyer, so without him, there will be more pressure on the fellas in the back. And as much as I can't believe we're talking about Burling as being a big miss, the fact is that there was a drop off without him in the lineup last week.
So, it's worth wondering who will replace Minda, and who will slot in next to Carlos Bocanegra against the Red Bulls. Agustin Pelletieri will be back, but the other holding mid slot will be up for grabs. Will Thomas McNamara start a second straight game there? Like Eric explained in his scouting report, I think McNamara should be pushed farther forward and Daniel Fragoso should get the start. Regardless, without Minda, there will be a drop off, but hopefully the guys in the lineup will be able to cope.
Meanwhile, will Andrew Jean-Baptiste get his first start for Chivas, or will Eriq Zavaleta hang onto the starting spot for a second week running? I would think AJB will get the nod now that he's healthy, but Cabrera could figure the former Portland Timbers CB might not be match fit or may prefer Zavaleta at this point. Either way, there will be question marks with both players. Whoever starts, along with the regular starters, will need to be up to the test against New York.
Why Chivas will win this match: They have had New York's number in recent years, including wins in 2011 (at Red Bull Arena) and last year. Chivas have shown a tendency to get up for this game, and for New York to kind of sleepwalk through games, so if the conditions are similar, a win is certainly possible. In addition, Chivas have started pretty well this year, and the Red Bulls haven't, so despite the talent disparity (which isn't nearly as stark as it was last year), Chivas should certainly feel like they are capable of getting another win over Eastern Conference opposition.
Why the Red Bulls will win this match: Winless streaks are bound to end at some time, and with New York struggling so far and having problems against Chivas in the recent past, they may have circled this game as the time to turn things around. Add to that the fact that they'll be at home and the Goats had by far their worst game last week on the road, and the Red Bulls' streak of futility may come to an end. Plus, Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill have scored against Chivas -- on PKs, but they are sure to be dangerous scoring options once more. I think there's a great chance the Red Bulls will get a win, but I'm not saying for certain it's going to happen. Their track record of falling flat just indicates a win is never assured.
Why this game will end in a draw: It's not so much that Chivas will play up and New York will play down, but because they seem to play at the same level against each other. While Chivas have been unbeaten the past few years against New York, there have been draws in that stretch along with the memorable wins. Both teams are looking to get their footing this season, and both teams are apt to draw red cards and/or penalties, both in the past and this season. I think a draw is a pretty likely outcome this time around.
Chivas: Oswaldo Minda (hamstring), Bobby Burling (shoulder)
Red Bulls: None
What do you think? Leave a comment below!