2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, Wild Card Preview: FC Dallas Vs. New York Red Bulls

2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, Wild Card Preview: FC Dallas Vs. New York Red Bulls

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 26, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Wild Card, Features

Dane Richards will have to step up tonight for New York. (Getty Images)

And so it begins, the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs kick off tonight with the league’s first wild card game between FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls.

With the new playoff format teams, players, media folks, fans, everyone really has no clue what the wild card round will really bring. One has to think it will bring an element of chaos in a way since it is a winner take all kind of thing.

These next two weeks are really going to hit hard and fast for everyone. Games today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, next Wednesday and then next weekend – lots of soccer in a short amount of time.

Tonight will be interesting, make no mistake about that. New York comes into this game on a little better form than FC Dallas. But there are factors that could go against Hans Backe’s club here. Luke Rodgers is out for the game and it is been widely discussed over the last day or so about how poorly the Red Bulls do this season without him. He did score the lone goal against Dallas the last time the Red Bulls visited Pizza Hut Park this season in a 1-0 New York win.

Then there is the rest factor for Dallas. While New York had to fight their way into the playoffs, Dallas clinched a bid fairly early and were able to rest key players in the final weekend of play. Brek Shea, Zach Loyd, Ugo Ihemelu, Kevin Hartman, Jackson, Marvin Chavez all got rest last weekend. Those are a few key guys for Dallas that needed a day off and they got it. We’ve seen in the past that a rested Dallas equals a really tough one to face.

New York will have Thierry Henry back for this one as he sat out the last game with a red card suspension. He and guys like Dane Richards and Juan Agudelo (off the bench) will be huge for the Red Bulls in the attack. Henry was a Dallas killer back in July when these two squared off at Red Bull Arena – scoring a game-tying goal late in the match.

For me this one is simple, if Dallas can use their rested players like Shea, Jackson and Chavez to guide the attack, they will win this game. New York will have to clog the middle of the field and force Dallas to go through guys like Daniel Cruz instead of their wingers. Defensively, the two teams are fairly even on paper though New York did give up a few more goals this year than Dallas did. Tim Ream and Stephen Keel will have to have another huge game in the middle with Rafa Marquez leading the way just above them in the midfield.

If New York can grab the lead early, I’d expect them to bunker down as quickly as possible to not allow Dallas any attacking room. And if this game comes to the benches, take Dallas. New York is incredibly thin after Agudelo.

This one will be close and physical. Expect a few cards and some silly fouls. New York has the talent to win this game but it is hard to knock the home field advantage here, especially in the playoffs. Dallas wins on a Brek Shea goal and advances to play Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

WVH Prediction: Dallas 1, New York 0