After dropping the ball in week three, it has been back to back winning weeks with the Philadelphia Union. A win last week – or a successful fade of Cincinnati, rather – brought back 1.00x and moved my MLS record on the season to 4-2 (2.12x). This week, I am stepping it up with a bigger than usual stake.
It is awfully strange to have to look down near the bottom of the table to find the New York Red Bulls five matches into the MLS Season. The perennial power and arguably most talented roster in the Eastern Conference have just four points from a possible 12 and have their only win against the worth team in the league, San Jose.
But how much of the blame can be put on New York for the slow start considering their schedule? In the 31-day span between February 28 and March 30, New York played seven matches.
Of the seven matches, there was a 2,400km flight to Santo Domingo, a 3,500km flight to Torreon, two 72 turnarounds between matches and two of their starting defenders were absent for eight days due to international duty. It is surprising the team took the field for their previous two matches against Orlando and Chicago, let alone kept them to single goal deficits. Now with all external commitments in the rear view and a full week of rest and prep as a whole team, the Red Bulls are primed for a major bump back.
From a matchup standpoint, this is a very difficult spot for Minnesota. The Loons have the majority of their success when they are able to play behind the creativity of Darwin Quintero on offense – MLS leader in chances created – against a soft defence. See Vancouver and San Jose. This allows for their shaky midfield to avoid pinching up and getting caught out of position.
They struggle mightily against opponents who play a high pressing style and force them off the ball.
This creates a disconnect between their front four and backline. See Los Angeles and New England.
In fact, it is quite easy to draw direct comparisons between the New England playing style and the New York playing style. The difference being, New York does it significantly better and with more pace. The Revolution were able to score twice and generate nearly 3.00 xG with their press and counter style. There is little doubt to me that New York can bait the aggressive Minnesota attack into playing a touch to deep, before winning the ball and abusing the worst defensive back line in the league on the counter at will.
Time for Regression
Albeit just four matches into the season, when we start to place New York in clusters with other teams that have similar numbers, the question becomes a matter of when the results will turn, not if. New York has outshot opponents by 17 shots in their first four matches, one of which was without two starting defenders. Despite sitting near the bottom of the conference table, their 0.63 total shots ratio ranks 2nd in the MLS.
The -1.0 goal differential vs expected goal differential further highlights the unfortunate results thus far in the season.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, New York faced a brutal schedule to begin this 2019 season but Minnesota may be facing an equally difficult task playing their fifth road match in as many weeks. Next week marks a huge occasion for the franchise in its third season as their new home stadium will open. Getting to return and settle in is something all players have quoted to be very much looking forward to.
The Loons were quickly overrated out of the gate after their opening two wins came against perfect defensive opposition to fit their style. Add in a bump up in competition and fatigue the last two weeks, and we have seen the worst defence in the MLS return to true form. This matchup against New York is extremely difficult to manage for Adrian Heath, and no matter what Darwin Quintero can do, he won’t beat this New York defence enough to make the difference.
The Red Bulls will make a statement with a convincing victory.
New York Red Bulls -1 (1.925) Risking 1.55x.
Host Ali Maxwell is joined by Nigel Seeley and Mark O’Haire to look ahead to the weekend’s football action, with four games analysed, all in different competitions. Nigel, a betting journalist and top tipster across multiple sports has some strong opinions on Watford vs Wolves in the FA Cup Semi Final, and Wimbledon vs Accrington in League One. Mark, the brains behind FBA-nominated site WeLoveBetting, takes a detailed look at Juventus vs Milan and Emmen vs Heerenveen, which contains his best bet of 2019!