Who: Portland Timbers vs New York Red Bulls
When: Sunday, September 15th @ 09:30 pm ET
Line: Portland Timbers -110 | Draw +270 | New York Red Bull +265
Sunday, September 15.
The New York Red Bulls got a break from the MLS schedule maker, playing no games during the international break. Thereby, RBNY has a full squad at its disposal during its most recent game, an advantage they squandered by losing 2-0 at home to Colorado.
Seattle was not as fortunate and it likely cost them a victory when they lost to Colorado 2-0 on September 7, with several key players away on international duty. That listed included U.S. players Jordan Morris and Christian Roldan, as well as dangerous Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz.
Both teams are coming off of 2-0 shutout losses to Tim Howard and the Colorado Rapids. However, Seattle had won two in a row prior to running into Howard’s ride into the sunset, while the Red Bulls loss to the one-time MetroStar was their second on the trot.
With five games remaining each of these teams is in the midst of a playoff push with neither side especially hot. The Sounders have amassed 2 wins, 2 losses, and 1 tie over their past five matches, slightly better than New York’s five-match mark of 1 win, 3 losses, and one draw.
Despite those similar records and with Seattle just five points superior to New York over the long season, the Sounders are in a much better place, right in the heart of the West’s battle for second place, while the Red Bulls have slid down the Eastern Conference table in a season of disappointment for the 2018 Supporters Shield winners.
3,000 miles is a long road trip but the Red Bulls may be just as happy to play in front of Seattle’s boisterous crowd, given their unsatisfactory home mark of 8-5-2 at Red Bull Arena, a fortress no more.
Red Bulls coach Chris Armas was showered with chants of “Fire Armas” and “Armas Must Go” in the team’s most recent home game, that 2-0 loss to a Rapids side with no hope of making the playoffs. It leads one to wonder if the Red Bulls front office will reconsider Armas’ position this winter.
All-time leading Red Bulls goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips hasn’t been his usual lethal self since his return from injury, will the 34-year-old ever will be? The upshot is that New York has missed 2018 SuperDraft selection Brian White more than anyone could ever have expected prior to the season.
Further complicating matters for Armas is the play of Aaron Long whose uneven club form with has carried over to the national team. Long’s season-long struggles have seemed to be contagious with Tim Parker and Michael Murillo similarly plagued.
Seattle’s attack has received a boost from Jordan Morris’ improved play since his switch from right-wing to left, where the USMNT man has been far more effective. Morris would still be more effective as a striker but his path is blocked by Ruidiaz. The two working in tandem can be a tough night for any defense and the Red Bulls, and indeed the league will need to be on their toes.
Seattle has still not quite adjusted to the sudden early-season retirement of defensive stalwart Chad Marshall, considered by many the league’s best-ever defender.
Per MLSsoccer.com Seattle has racked up a 5-0-3 mark with eight goals conceded in Marshall’s eight games before his May farewell while the Sounders have slumped to 8-9-4 with 37 goals allowed in their remaining 21 matches.
With so much at stake for both sides, it figures to be a tense affair. Ruidiaz and Morris operating up top against a suspect Red Bulls defense and with New York’s attack not firing on all cylinders, Seattle would seem to have the advantage.
Throw in Seattle’s home record of 9-2-3 and New York’s 4-7-3 away mark of 4-7-3 and it is hard to see anything but a Seattle win Sunday night at the Link.