Get ready to rumble on Friday night when
the New York Red Bulls host the Houston Dynamo in a real MLS grudge match at
Red Bull Arena with REVENGE writ large on New York hearts and as soccer picks go, this is going to be a tough one to call.
In form Houston take a trip to out of sorts
New York on Friday night, knowing that should their match with the Red Bulls
conform to current form they will have a five point lead over their rivals. The
Bulls, who are nursing a three game losing streak, will know that there is no
better way to steady the good ship Red Bull than with a home victory in a
six-point game and a return to the top of the table.
New York no show!
It’s not just form that favours the Dynamo in this soccer pick,
it’s also their last head to head encounter, and a recent
one at that. Last Friday saw New York go down 2-0 to Houston at the BBVA
Compass Stadium in what should have been a right tasty battle royale between
the two Eastern Conference leaders. The game kicked off with the (11-6-5) Red
Bulls -leading over the second-place (10-5-7) Houston Dynamo. But after the
game it was the Bulls who were corralled and left looking up at the opposition.
New York now have 38 points, two points behind the Dynamo, who moved into first
with the win.
It was one way traffic from very early on
as the Dynamo took the lead in just the second minute when Jermaine Taylor
kneed in from close range after a bit of goal mouth pinball. The Bulls seemed to
be in no mood for a stampede and the 28th minute saw the hosts double
their lead, thanks to the head of Calen Carr.
The Red Bulls almost got back in the game
just before the hour when Thierry Henry teed up fellow French fella Sebastien
Le Toux at the top of the box, but Le Toux sent the ball off (like New York
native Olympic pole vaulter Jenn Suhr) way over the bar with his left foot.
With time ticking on New York newboy Tim Cahill, in his MLS regular season
debut, got his head to a Henry corner kick but just nodded it past the right
post. Sydney born Cahill may well have been distracted by the Australian
Olympic team’s poor showing in the London Olympics (they have just five golds,
while Team GB have 22 at present).
Before the game, Red Bulls’ Head Coach Hans
Backe said, “They’ve been flying. We know that you need to show up from the
first second, play hard, and then you have a chance.”
After the game, New York midfielder Teemu
Tainio said, “It was a terrible game, for me and for the whole team.”
A tight three way competition in the
Ahead of this Friday’s showdown Sporting KC
could have found themselves in the Gold Medal spot atop the MLS East standings
if they took all three points off New England; and New York and Houston played
out a draw. As it turned out Sporting KC’s 1-0 victory was enough to leapfrog
the Bulls, into the Silver Medal, spot tied with the Dynamo on 40 points. Also both
fourth place DC and fifth place Chicago are within (three point) touching
distance of New York. There’s a real danger that New York could even slip off
the MLS podium!
Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural
Friday’s rematch home at Red Bull Arena
gives the Red Bulls an immediate opportunity to get back on track and exact
some revenge. It won’t be easy and all the money in my pocket is doing the
“smart bet shuffle”, heading down on the in-form side when looking at the live
odds. Not only are Houston unbeaten at home (since opening their bright and
shiny new arena) they have also won five straight games, they’ve scored 13
goals in their last five, and conceded just one! New York have come a poor
second in each of their last three games, conceding seven goals and only
scoring two (one against Spurs and one against Montreal). Based on those stats,
you might as well bet on Tajikistan tidying up at London 2012 as back a New
York win. Backing the game ending drawn is a safe Plan-B bet as three of the
last five meeting between these sides have ended honours even.
To exact revenge for yourself, is not only
a right, it's an absolute duty
The only thing in New York’s favour is that
they can’t continue to squander points and lose games like this; and having a
second pop at the Dynamo so soon after their defeat at Houston, might just get
them going. In the words of their head coach, “Perhaps when you lose like this,
it’s a good idea to get that same team at home,” Backe said. It’s also their
last chance to take points off Houston as Friday is the final regular season meeting
between the two sides. NY are still, just two points behind the Dynamo a win
will restore them to the top of the table, and silence a lot of their critics
(from both stands).
Prediction: I’m backing a tight Houston win.