Red Bulls look to defend home turf vs. Sporting KC
The New York Red Bulls have been consistently good at two things this season -- winning at home and rebounding from a loss.
Of the four previous defeats before Sunday's 1-0 Hudson River Derby loss at New York City FC, three times the Red Bulls have won the next game, scoring three times in each victory. The only non-win was a 1-1 draw at Columbus on June 9.
That's the mission Saturday night when the Red Bulls meet Sporting Kansas City at Red Bull Arena.
Of course, that's easier said than done against a Sporting side that is just two points behind Western Conference-leading FC Dallas and spent much of the first half of the season in first place.
"Always a good team, they're good on the ball, they have good outside players who really can run at you and cause problems," Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence said. "We're just going to try to force turnovers, try to play our game, try to counter-press and see if we can get some early goals. If we do that at Red Bull Arena, then we put ourselves in the right place to win the game.
Red Bulls coach Chris Armas believes the preparation his team had for NYCFC doesn't change much for Sporting KC.
"Kansas City poses very similar challenges," Armas said. "We know them well. We got to face off a couple times last year, of course the Open Cup final, so we have a lot of respect for them. Clearly, you see week in and week out why they're arguably the best team in the league. We'll be prepared to battle them and on our home field we like our chances."
The Red Bulls (10-5-2), who are in third place in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind first-place Atlanta United with three games in hand, have been dominant at Red Bull Arena this season. They are 6-1-1 and have outscored opponents 20-4. Conversely, SKC is 3-3-3 away from Children's Mercy Park this season.
Reeling from a host of injuries, Sporting is winless in its last three games and is coming off a 2-2 home draw against Toronto FC last Saturday. It wasn't the result Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes wanted, but he lauded the effort and energy during the course of 90 minutes.
"I think we got back on the right track in the way that we started the game, in the way that we played for 90 minutes," Vermes said. "That was a good thing."
Despite a change at the helm, Vermes doesn't expect anything different when the Red Bulls step onto the field with Armas in charge than when Jesse Marsch, who left last Friday to become an assistant coach at Red Bull Leipzig, was calling the shots.
"I think they're the same team and they're going to play the same way, so a team that's going to be high pressing, try to keep the tempo of the game fast, but we've played that before and understand what we're getting into," Vermes said. "They'll also be at home and have a little bit more of a drive. We'll just have to be prepared for that situation."
Updated July 12, 2018