Red Bulls look to keep streaking vs. Minnesota United
The surging New York Red Bulls have a quick turnaround from Wednesday’s convincing home win by traveling to play Minnesota United FC on Saturday.
This will be the first meeting between New York and Minnesota United, an expansion team in its first season.
The Red Bulls (9-8-2) defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 5-1 on Wednesday for their fourth consecutive victory including Open Cup matches. They have won their last two MLS matches as they enter the game against Minnesota United (5-11-4), which is tied for last place in the Western Conference with 19 points.
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“We’ve stuck to it,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “We’ve had to grind through moments. We’ve had to feel the sense of failure for a large portion of the season, but we’ve all stuck together and made sure that we know what this is about and we knew we’d come out on the other end, but you have to stay after it every day.”
New York, which has won seven of its last nine matches, has 29 points, tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with Orlando City SC. The Red Bulls have outscored their last two opponents, New England and San Jose, 8-3.
They have also won their last two road matches by a combined score of 5-2 — a 3-2 win over New England and a 2-0 victory at Philadelphia on June 18. With three road wins, the Red Bulls are far ahead of last year’s pace. Their third road win in 2016 did not happen until Oct. 23.
Daniel Royer, in his second season as a member of the Red Bulls, is one of the team’s success stories with seven goals. The Austrian winger has scored in back-to-back matches and in four of the last eight.
Two of his goals this season were clutch in the waning minutes. His goal in the 76th minute against Atlanta evened the match and his goal against New England in the 74th minute was the game winner.
Minnesota United is in a perilous situation against Royer and the Red Bulls as it struggles to find a healthy center-back.
With Brent Kallman as the only possibility at that position, the team is waiting on the potential addition of Michael Boxall, who is stuck in Toronto with visa and passport problems. Boxall, from New Zealand, has been in Toronto since Tuesday along with Scottish winger Sam Nicholson. Nicholson returned to practice Friday and is available to play. Boxall’s situation is still undetermined.
“Different circumstances, we’d hoped Boxall would have been back. Obviously, his visa application, because of some of the countries he’s been recently, is a lot more complicated than Sam’s,” said coach Adrian Heath, referring to Boxall being in South Africa for his club team and Russia for the recent Confederations Cup.
“We’re still hopeful, and if he gets back in time, then we’ll have a decision to make, see how he feels. He has been working while he’s been there, but it’s a case of wait and see.”
Left-back Justin Davis played center-back for most of United’s 0-0 draw against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.