3:15 pm Aug. 10, 2012
Exactly one week after the Houston Dynamo took apart the New York Red Bulls on national television, the Red Bulls have the chance to return the favor Friday night at Red Bull Arena, with a fair amount at stake.
Last Friday's loss was a debacle. Thierry Henry criticized his team's effort, but much of the disparity between Houston and New York had to do with the Dynamo's acquisition and incorporation of players, which has already happened, and their team's health.
One significant example is Honduran midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia, who is essentially exactly what the Red Bulls hope former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill will be for them. Houston is undefeated with Garcia, who signed back on June 7. Cahill, meanwhile, was paying in his first M.L.S. match last Friday, and it showed.
What makes the Red Bulls so interesting is that Cahill is a far better player than Garcia at this point. The same quality up front for the Red Bulls in Henry, Sebastian Le Toux and Kenny Cooper wasn't readily obvious from former Red Bull Macoumba Kandji, who failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities to put the game away.
Houston has plenty of talent throughout, including up front with Will Bruin and supersub Brian Ching. The Red Bulls, on paper, should have more.
They'll need to show it soon, if they want a manageable road in the playoffs that requires other teams to come through Red Bull Arena, where the Red bulls are undefeated, rather than sending New York out to win in hostile environments. With a win, Houston would move five points up on the Red Bulls with ten matches to go, while holding a tiebreaker with New York. San Jose, already six points ahead of the Red Bulls for the Supporters' Shield, could build even more room. And teams like the Chicago Fire and DC United can send the Red Bulls further down the food chain of playoff seeding.