Who: New York Red Bulls vs Colorado Rapids
When: Saturday, August 31st @ 07:00 pm ET
Line: New York Red Bulls -250 | Draw +390 | Colorado +600
This Saturday night, the New York Red Bulls will welcome back New Jersey native, former New York/New Jersey MetroStar, and USMNT goalkeeping legend Tim Howard for his final professional match in his home state. This is the first time that Howard has faced his former, rebranded team.
It figures to be an emotional night for Howard and his Jersey-based fans. The home team won’t have much time for sentiment, although a video tribute would be a nice touch.
The Red Bulls are coming off of a disappointing trip to the Bronx that resulted in a 2-1 loss to neighboring New York City FC last Saturday. Sentiment aside, coach Chris Armas and company will be looking to beat up on Howard and his very beatable Colorado Rapids squad.
New York Red Bulls vs Colorado Rapids Match Preview
The Rapids will be playing their first game under new coach Robin Fraser in what is a homecoming of sorts for the former Red Bulls assistant, and ex-Chivas US head coach.
Fraser replaces former interim boss Conor Casey and inherits a team that is 13 points below the playoff line.
Already up against it, Colorado will be missing three starters for this match-up, with club goal-scoring leader Kei Kamara (11), midfielder Kellyn Acosta and defender Lalas Abubakar all suspended. Kamara sits for a straight red card offense and the others for yellow card accumulation in the wake of a madcap 2-0 Rivalry Week loss to Real Salt Lake. That match saw RSL score in the 96th and 99th minutes to earn the Rocky Mountain Cup.
Bouncing back from that disappointment will be no easy task for Colorado and an early test of Fraser’s motivational skills.
Fraser, most recently a Toronto FC assistant, will surely look to the red hot Diego Rubio if his Rapids are to deliver a surprise. Although he was kept off the scoresheet by RSL, Rubio notched a brace in the Rapids August 17th 2-2 draw at Houston. He has scored eight of his team-high nine goals in his previous 11 games.
Like the Raps, the Red Bulls will be looking for a bounce-back performance. However, unlike their guests, New York is very much in the playoff picture. Every point is crucial for NYRB as they attempt to secure a top-four finish and first-round home playoff game.
With young striker Brian White’s status still up in the air, Armas figures to entrust Bradey Wright-Philips with another start.
Midfielder Alex Muyl finally seems healthy again, as his rocketed goal versus NYCFC would attest. The hard working midfielder will likely get another nod from Armas unless the coach prefers to bing Muyl along slowly.
Red Bulls co-leader in goals, Daniel Royer, will get the start, and Armas figures to ride his most dependable player to the finish line.
A pair of players that will play key roles in RBNY’s playoff push are Aaron Long and Kaku. Both players have struggled for form in the wake of transfer rumors (Kaku in the offseason, Long more recently).
Just as important though for the home team are Long’s fellow defenders, center-back Tim Parker and fullback Michael Murillo. Not so long ago, Parker was getting USMNT calls. However, he has struggled this season while Long has become a national team mainstay.
Murillo has been a near-automatic pick not only for the Red Bulls but also for his native Panama. This season Murillo has been an accident waiting to happen though, collecting red cards, penalties etc, for New York to the point where recently signed Rece Buckmaster has become an option for Armas.
Still, if the Red Bulls are to contend beyond one and done this postseason, this is a match that they simply must win. Expect them to step up and collect all three points, souring Howard’s home farewell.