Preview: Red-hot strikers to face off in NY - SJ showdown
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
April 14, 2012 (WEEK 6, MLS Game #49)
7 p.m. ET (MSG; CSN-CA+)
The hottest goalscorers in Major League Soccer will be the focus when the New York Red Bulls play host to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. Led by current Golden Boot leader Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper, the Red Bulls have exploded offensively in winning three games on the trot, last a 4-1 win at the Columbus Crew. Led by Chris Wondolowski, who's finished atop the league goalscoring tables the last two years, the Quakes have also won three in a row after a 3-1 come-from-behind win vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC last weekend.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Peter Manikowski; JAR (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Armando Villarreal
MLS Career: 148 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 42; pens: 55
- NEW YORK RED BULLS -- OUT: FW Juan Agudelo (L knee surgery recovery); MF Teemu Tainio (R knee sprain); DF Wilman Conde (groin strain)
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: MF Joey Gjertsen (R knee surgery); DF Tim Ward (L non-specific soft tissue injury); DOUBTFUL: FW Alan Gordon (L hamstring strain); FW Steven Lenhart (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Sercan Guvenisik (R hip flexor strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SJ: Steven Lenhart
ALL-TIME (32 meetings): Red Bulls 10 wins (0 shootout), 46 goals ... Earthquakes 15 wins (2 shootout), 49 goals ... Ties 7
AT NEW YORK (16 meetings): Red Bulls 8 wins (0 shootout), 30 goals ... Earthquakes 4 wins (0 shootout), 15 goals ... Ties 4
LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/16: NY 3, SJ 0 (Rodgers 2, 15; Henry 87)
7/2: SJ 2, NY 2 (Stephenson 37; Lenhart 68 - Lindpere 7, 85)
- This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
- The Red Bulls have a four-game home league winning streak vs. San Jose alive, including both meetings all-time at Red Bull Arena. The Quakes last won in New Jersey on May 7, 2005, a 2-1 win at Giants Stadium.
- The teams met in a conference semifinal series in 2010, each team winning on the other's home ground, with the Quakes advancing 4-2 on aggregate after a 3-1 victory in Harrison.
- Coaches record: Hans Backe vs. SJ: P4 W2 L1 D1 ... Frank Yallop vs. NY: P18 W5 L7 D6
NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls continued their remarkable run of form, scoring early and often for a 4-1 victory against the Columbus Crew on Saturday afternoon at Crew Stadium. The Red Bulls are in second place in the Eastern Conference, with 9 points from 5 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Red Bulls roll in Columbus
- The Red Bulls took the lead after just three minutes when Kenny Cooper out-muscled Crew central defender Eric Gehrig for a lofted ball from Thierry Henry and slotted a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner.
- Ten minutes later, Cooper bagged his second goal of the afternoon when a deflected shot found the Red Bulls striker inside the Crew's six-yard box, and he looped a header out of goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum's reach and over the goal line.
- Henry extended New York's lead to 3-0 just before halftime, leading a counterattack and slotting home to the far post around Gruenebaum.
- The Crew scored in the 89th minute when midfielder Kirk Urso drove in a corner kick and center back Chad Marshall headed home from close range.
- Henry restored New York's three-goal lead with his second goal just moments later, collecting a Joel Lindpere pass and striking an easy shot from 15 yards into the upper right corner.
- Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made two changes to the team that rolled to a 5-2 win against the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena. Stephen Keel came into the back four for Wilman Conde, and Mehdi Ballouchy started in midfield for Joel Lindpere.
- NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Ryan Meara - Jan Gunnar Solli, Stephen Keel, Markus Holgersson, Roy Miller - Dane Richards (Joel Lindpere 80), Dax McCarty, Rafa Marquez, Mehdi Ballouchy - Kenny Cooper, Thierry Henry.
Between the Lines: The Near Post Run
- The Red Bulls became the first team in MLS history to win three consecutive games by three goals or more.
- "We were very effective. We got the chances, we even had two or three more very good chances to score a fourth one too," said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. " ... I don't think any team can perform over 90 minutes the way we did the first 60. It's a massive away win once again scoring four goals and our strikers scoring all of them. It's phenomenal."
- Thierry Henry became the first player in MLS history to be named Player of the Week for three consecutive weeks. His seven goals after five games are tied for second-most in MLS history; only Landon Donovan's eight goals after five games in 2008 is more (Edson Buddle had seven in 2010).
- Henry's seven goals in three games is also one shy of the MLS record, set Sept. 2-9, 2000 when Diego Serna scored eight goals in three games for the Miami Fusion.
- Kenny Cooper has also scored six goals, tied for second in the MLS Golden Boot standings with San Jose's Chris Wondolowski.
- "It's always good when the team can get an early goal. Fortunately we were able to do it again today. We've done it a couple times this year," said Cooper. "We got off to a great start and I thought from beginning to the end, it was a real solid performance. Credit to the guys, I thought we defended well and attacked well. It's nice to get that first road win."
- The Red Bulls have scored 13 goals in their last three games, tied for fourth-most in a three-game span in league history. The LA Galaxy scored 15 goals over three games from June 4-18, 1998.
- "We didn't start the season like I think any of us wanted to, but we went home and got great results at home," Cooper said. "Maybe we came into this game with some good momentum and confidence. It's nice to get the first road victory."
- Mehdi Ballouchy made his first start of the season after coming off the bench for four consecutive matches, playing the entire 90 minutes. After coming on for the final 10 minutes, Joel Lindpere contributed his first assist of the season. It's developed into a fight for a wide midfield spot.
- "[Ballouchy] played well, but to be very clear about Joel, he has responded the way you want to see, he was flying today," Backe said. "He's been good the last two, three sessions and that's the way it has to be. Mehdi played well, so we'll see. ... Joel is a wide player. We've seen if you play with three central midfielders then he could be one of three but not one of two."
- Midfielder Teemu Tainio suffered a knee injury in the days leading up to the match, an injury Backe says will sideline him for 4-6 weeks.
- "I think we will be quite tested," Backe said. "The thing with Teemu is he's very unlucky because balance is very important in soccer in the middle of the park. ... If you lose the balance in the middle of the park, you are quite vulnerable then."
- The Red Bulls will also be without the services of center back Wilman Conde, who re-aggravated a groin strain he suffered a week-and-a-half ago. Conde has missed three of New York's first five games this season.
- “It’s not good,” Backe told reporters following Thursday’s training session. “Perhaps we should have expected it, because being out 10 months, no preseason, typical for a guy his age to pick up hamstrings, thighs, groins. I’m a little bit afraid that it will keep going like this the rest of the season.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes returned home and won for the third time in as many games, storming back for a 3-1 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes sit in second place in the Western Conference with 12 points from 5 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Quakes register big win over Vancouver
- Whitecaps FC opened the scoring four minutes after the break, Eric Hassli posted up inside the box and played a pass back to Sebastien Le Toux off a throw-in, and Le Toux knocked it inside the far post.
- Five minutes after the ëCaps broke the MLS record for most minutes to start a season without conceding a goal, the Quakes pulled even. Chris Wondolowski got behind the Vancouver defense, held off defender Jay DeMerit, then ran onto a throw-in from left back Ramiro Corrales and chipped 'Caps goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
- Then, in the 72nd minute, Corrales dialed a cross into the box, and second-half substitute Alan Gordon answered with a diving header to give San Jose the lead.
- Wondolowski hammered the final nail into the coffin in the 78th minute. Tressor Moreno found the striker at the back post with a cross from a free kick, and Wondolowski simply redirected it into the net on the volley.
- Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made one change to the team that knocked off Seattle Sounders FC 1-0 at CenturyLink Field. Simon Dawkins came into the side for Steven Lenhart.
- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-5-1): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow, Victor Bernardez, Ramiro Corrales - Marvin Chavez (Tressor Moreno 38), Rafael Baca, Simon Dawkins (Alan Gordon 52), Sam Cronin (Khari Stephenson 68), Shea Salinas - Chris Wondolowski.
The Daily 4/13: Big battle between top scorers
- With four wins in five games to start the season, the Earthquakes have gotten off to the best start in club history.
- "We're not getting carried away, obviously ëcause it's a long season," Earthquakes manager Frank Yallop said. "But to get off to a good start, it's always important in any league, especially ours. The guys are feeling confident. They didn't play like it in the first half, but what I liked about it was that they didn't really drop their heads and lose 1-0. We came back into it, and then we started to feel good about it and I thought we pushed on and deserved to win in the end."
- Since last Aug. 27, Wondolowski has scored 14 goals in 14 games. No winner of the MLS Golden Boot has even averaged a goal per game over the course of the entire season.
- Alan Gordon made his second consecutive appearance off the bench, scoring his first goal of the season. In four appearances with the Quakes after being obtained from Chivas USA, Gordon has two goals.
- But Gordon will likely not be available for the Red Bulls after suffering a hamstring strain during the Vancouver match. "We have to be [careful]," Quakes coach Frank Yallop said of Gordon. "As much as you want to put him out there, you don't want him to be out for six weeks."
- In addition, Steven Lenhart was not able to figure in the win against Whitecaps FC after suffering a hamstring ailment in the days leading to the match.
- "Alan gives us that target forward. It allows me to drop a little bit underneath," Wondolowski said. "To be honest, I really did a horrible job playing at target forward in absence of Lenny. ... I thought Alan did a great job. He caused a lot of havoc inside the box. He's such a force to be reckoned with."
- In the absence of Lenhart and Gordon, Yallop started Simon Dawkins with Wondolowski up top. He moved Tressor Moreno to the target striker role when he came on in the 38th minute for Marvin Chavez, who suffered an injury, until the introduction of Gordon after 52 minutes.
- Yallop said that if Gordon and Lenhart are unavailable this weekend, he could opt for Khari Stephenson, Cesar Diaz Pizarro - or even Sercan G¸venisik - in the point forward spot.
- "I've just got to be better at it," Wondolowski said. "I know what to do. I knew where I should be and what I should be doing. I just didn't do a good job of executing. My touch was a little bit off. I wasn't able to lay it off and keep the possession for us. I could do better."
- Both Moreno and Stephenson - who came on at the three-quarter mark for Sam Cronin - did not figure in the 1-0 win against Seattle the week before.
- "I have to credit the subs that came in the game and made a difference. I think that's why we mention depth. Those guys can't wait to play. They were great, all of them," Yallop said.