New York Red Bulls preview
The Red Bulls have only won 1 of their last 6 matches approaching this contest, and that was against a struggling Orlando side at home. Something isn't quite right with the Red Bulls right now, although they have shown signs in their last two games of a return to form. Last week they should’ve beaten Philly, blowing a 2-0 lead when appearing to be in complete control. The attacking side of their game was pretty strong for an hour in that contest, but coach Jesse Marsch must be concerned how poor they looked under pressure in the last 20 mins. The Red Bulls will be missing defender Kemar Lawrence and Gideon Bah. That’s been a theme for them this season, it seems at least one or two defenders are constantly on the sidelines and they can't field a consistent four at the back. NYRB are usually all about their attack anyway, although they've recently lost Lloyd Sam to DC United, someone who was a key part of their offense in recent seasons.
New York City FC preview
The visitors come into the match in great form having won 5 of their last 6 matches. Patrick Vieira’s men are top of the Eastern Conference and they have the best away record in the entire league. NYC have endured some tough moments this campaign, not least the 0-7 drubbing to their arch city rivals. But I think that loss was a big turning point in their season and since then the team have looked much better tactically. The return to fitness of Frank Lampard has also helped them. It means all three of their experienced designated players can all be on the field, leading to a really strong spine which gives them so much, both from a defensive and attacking sense. For this match left back Matarrita is injured and it looked like Federico Bravo should be in line to return after nearly two months out with injury. Andoni Iraola has done a good job replacing him in defensive midfield, but the latter has been carrying a knock recently and might have to be content with a place on the bench.
This is the third and final meeting between the two teams in the regular season in 2016. It’s quite possible and I have a feeling they’ll cross paths again in the playoffs. Both sides are locked at one victory apiece, although the Red Bulls still arguably have bragging rights thanks to their 7-0 demolition job back in May. NYC will be buoyed by the fact they beat their city rivals for the first ever time last time out 2-0. Obviously there’s a big rivalry between the sides and passions will be really high with a lot of commitment. Another big factor to consider here is the weather. Temperatures will be well into the 90s, although with a fairly high humidity level. The match will be kicking off at 1pm local time and will be played right in the heat of the day. Patrick Vieira has called it ‘ridiculous’ to schedule at such a time and that it’ll be impossible for the players to showcase the MLS in these sort of conditions. Hot temperatures can sometimes lead to a really low tempo and tight match, but it can also leads to mistakes. I’ve got a feeling NYC can keep it tight with a good gameplan. Maybe at the other end they can sneak a goal and claim the three points.
The Red Bulls are priced @ 1.75 here which I think is really short. It’s not as if they are playing that great at the moment and there’s no way I could consider backing them at these odds or on a -0.75 handicap. In fact, you could argue that NYC are a bit of value on a +0.75 handicap. They head into the match in much better form, have a superb away record and I think Patrick Vieira has been producing some improved tactical gameplans recently. He’ll be ready for the Red Bulls and will probably focus on nullifying their offense. But I’m not willing to part hard cash on a full sized +0.75 pick here. This might be a local derby but it’s rarely a wise move in MLS to back away teams in such a home dominant league. The goal line is priced between 3 and 3.25 and this looks too high considering the weather forecast. I think both teams are naturally attack minded but I’ve seen too many examples where matches fizzle out in brutally hot conditions. I would very much lean towards the under there, but again I’m not daft enough to back that when two good attacks are facing each other. I’m not going to suggest a main pick here but I think two bigger priced selections are worth chancing with small stakes. NYC are too big @ 4.85, and under 1.5 goals is a spot of value @ 5.50. No damage done if both picks lose but the reward is decent!
Recommended bets: New York City win @ 4.85 & Under 1.5 goals @ 5.50 (both small stakes)