Red Bulls-Earthquakes Preview

When the New York Red Bulls hosted San Jose in mid-April, they

delivered a dominant performance that was the beginning of a

three-game winning streak.

These days, they can hardly remember what a victory feels

like.

New York has won just once since the beginning of May, a drought

it’ll try to end as it wraps up a four-game road swing Saturday

night against the Earthquakes.

The Red Bulls (5-3-9) earned a small measure of revenge on San

Jose for their stunning 2010 conference semifinals loss with a 3-0

victory April 16, getting two goals from Luke Rodgers and another

from Thierry Henry.

Henry and Rodgers combined for three more goals in New York’s

next two victories, but it’s followed that streak with a 1-3-6

stretch as the club has been decimated by international commitments

and injuries. Juan Agudelo, Rafa Marquez and Tim Ream all missed

Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Chicago, while Rodgers has missed the entire

road swing while dealing with plantar fasciitis.

Rodgers hasn’t yet been ruled on against the Earthquakes

(5-5-5).

“It’s been tough for us and perhaps a bit unlucky in the end,”

coach Hans Backe told MLS’ official website. “Portland, we normally

would have won that game and Seattle we were unlucky, I think, in

that second half after we battled back. Then in Chicago, I think we

were really fatigued.”

Backe is also on the mend – he’s recovering from minor surgery

and won’t travel to San Jose, leaving assistant Jan Halvor

Halvorsen in charge – so he’ll miss the debut of Dax McCarty. The

Red Bulls acquired the midfielder from D.C. United on Monday in

exchange for two-time MLS Cup MVP Dwayne De Rosario.

De Rosario disappointed in 13 games since arriving from Toronto

FC, and Halvorsen feels McCarty is a better fit to mesh with the

likes of Agudelo, Henry and Rodgers.

“We have a lot of offensive players,” Halvorsen said. “It is a

little bit about the balance of the team.”

San Jose may need to keep the Red Bulls, who have scored a

league-high 27 goals, off the board entirely if it hopes to earn a

point. After scoring at least two goals in five consecutive games

from May 14-June 11, the Earthquakes have been blanked in

back-to-back matches.

They couldn’t get anything past Los Angeles in last Saturday’s

scoreless draw despite Galaxy forward Mike Magee being forced to

play in net for the final 47 minutes after his team lost both

goalkeepers.

San Jose coach Frank Yallop, though, wasn’t too

disappointed.

“I thought that the first half was the best soccer that we have

played since the team came back in 2008,” Yallop said. “We were

moving the ball well and we created a number of chances. We should

have been up a couple of goals.”

Yallop’s club should feel considerably better about its chance

to score Saturday. Striker Chris Wondolowski, who has a team-high

six goals, will be available after missing four games to be with

the U.S. national team for the Gold Cup.