Both teams should be playoff contenders, and could even meet in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup finals if both teams win their respective semi-final matches.
The Quakes (7-7-5, 26 points, -4 GD) sit in fifth in the West while RBNY (8-8-2, 26 points, -5 GD) sit in seventh in the East despite identical total league points and nearly identical goal differential
Defenders Kofi Sarkodie and Victor Bernardez, defensive mids Darwin Ceren and Anibal Godoy, and forward Marco Urena, will not play due to international call-ups and suspensions. The Red Bulls will be without defenders Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo due to international call-ups.
Expect an offensively-oriented formation to challenge a Quakes team missing many defensive pieces. While the Red Bulls normally play a 4-2-3-1 with Bradley Wright-Phillips at the 9, don’t be surprised to see a 4-1-3-2 with BWP and Gonzalo Veron–who scored the game-winner against the Revs on Saturday–playing up top with Sean Davis having to make room. Luis Robles ranks third in MLS in saves, and will be starting in goal (how did he not get a Gold Cup call-up, Bruce??). Defensively, Connor Lade, Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, and Sal Zizzo should start on the backline. Red Bulls mainstay and porn-stache superstar Sacha Kljestan will start as a defesive mid. If the Bulls play their traditional double-pivot, Sean Davis will start alongside Kljestan. Offensively, the midfield trio of Alex Muyl, Felipe, and Daniel Royer will be providing service to two-time MLS Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright Phillips.
The Quakes have been experimenting with the 3-5-2 with success. However, without Bernardez, a more conservative approach on the road might be more practical. Expect a diamond 4-4-2 with Bingham in goal, Cato, Jungwirth, Imperiale, and Lima on the back-line, Jackson Yueill playing the defensive #6 with Hyka and Thompson on the wings. Vako could start at the CAM, with Hoesen and Wondo up top. If Vako is unable to play, Tommy could start as the CAM #10 with Dawkins playing on the wing.
Final Score Prediction
No Bernardez, no Godoy, no problem. The Quakes are a confident team with plenty to prove, and a new DP in their arsenal. The Red Bulls are struggling to maintain themselves in the playoff race. With Hoesen and Wondo each hitting their scoring stride recently, expect the Quakes to score twice. I’m also predicting that since the Quakes have yet to take a PK all season in MLS play, they’re due for at least one PK goal, with Wondo doing the honor. Bradley Wright-Phillips should score one as Quakes opponents have scored at least one goal in games Victor has missed. 2-1 Quakes.