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Seattle Sounders go into this tie as firm favorites. They’re playing at home against a New York Red Bulls side that has won just three matches all season. The Sounders are sitting pretty in second place on the Western Conference table, and a win could take them to first, even though they’ll have played a few games more than their closest rivals on the Western Conference table. However, they don’t enter this game in good form. In fact, they’ve lost their last four MLS matches and the last five in all competitions.
The New Red Bulls seem to have been found out this year. Their high-pressing game no longer seems as effective as it used to be, ultimately leading to Gerhard Struber's departure as manager. Troy Lesesne has been promoted from assistant manager to manager, but it remains to be seen if he’ll hold this position for long or is just a placeholder until someone else becomes available. Lesense’s arrival has led to a little resurgence. New manager bounces are common, but it’ll be fascinating to see if they can keep this up against a strong side like Seattle.
The Seattle Sounders have been a bit unlucky in recent weeks. Despite being the favorites, they have decent value this week, so we think they’re the better bet. They’re too good a side to drop more points.
There isn’t a lot separating the two sides as far as head-to-head records are concerned. New York Red Bulls have a slight edge with six wins, five losses, and three draws in the fourteen games played between the two sides.
The two sides don’t face each other too often. In fact, they last faced each other four years back. The Sounders won 4-2 on the day. They took the lead in the second minute thanks to Jordan Morris and went 2-0 through Nicolas Lodeiro in the 23rd minute. The Red Bulls got one back four minutes later through Aaron Long to make it 2-1 before Alejandro Romero scored the equalizer in the 67th minute.
The Sounders were a bit fortunate to retake the lead after Sean Davis put the ball in his own net in the 83rd minute, and Lodeiro confirmed the three points with his second of the day four minutes into second-half stoppage-time. The Sounders were marginally better on the day; it feels like we’ll get a similar result and performance this week from the two sides.
Seattle Sounders started the season in blistering form but have now lost their last four MLS matches and last five in all competitions. They’ve not won in the MLS since April 23rd but still find themselves in second place on the Western Conference table, which highlights just how well they started this season.
The concerning aspect of their 2-0 loss to Vancouver was that they didn’t really deserve to get anything out of the tie. Vancouver outplayed them all game – they took 17 shots to the Sounders’ eight and five shots on target compared to the one from the Sounders.
Pedro Vitte’s 44th-minute strike and Steffan Frei’s 58th-minute own goal were enough to give Vancouver the three points and a clean sheet.
Before the loss to Vancouver, Seattle were a bit unlucky to drop so many points. Their underlying numbers suggest they deserve to be at the top of the Western Conference table. Their expected goal and expected goal-against numbers are some of the best in the league, even after accounting for the extra games.
Jordan Morris, their top goalscorer with eight goals, has an xG of 6.4, so there’s nothing strange about his return. They seem to be having a crisis of confidence. Sometimes, all it takes is one win to get back on track, and this game is an excellent opportunity for them to do just that.
The New York Red Bulls have their own struggles and are playing away from home, so the Sounders should be all over them. If the Sounders make a strong start, they should get all three points.
The New York Red Bulls got their third win of the league season and second in a row last week against Montreal. Andres Reyes' 23rd-minute strike was quickly neutralized by Joel Watermen six minutes later. The New York Red Bulls got another in the 38th-minute through Cory Burke, which turned out to be the winner.
They were thoroughly deserving of the three points. They had 51% of the possession and took 16 shots to Montreal’s five. They were a bit unfortunate not to score more. New manager Troy Lesesne deserves a lot of credit for rebuilding the side’s confidence after a difficult start to the season.
Troy Lesense couldn’t have asked for a better start to his managerial career. Lesense was promoted to manager from his assistant role under Gerhard Struber after Struber and the Red Bulls mutually agreed to part company.
Under Struber, the Red Bulls were one of the best high-pressing sides in the leagues, as is the philosophy at all Red Bull clubs. As impressive as this approach is, it’s not as effective as it used to be in top-level football, as many MLS clubs follow this approach now, and others have found a way to play against it. This approach was most effective against the better sides last season, but the Red Bulls struggled when they were expected to break apart opposition that let them have the ball.
Lesesne’s task going forward is to hold onto the high-pressing approach while making his teams more expansive in possession of the ball. Of course, the quality of the players will determine this, but Lesense seems to have already helped the team play a more expansive game during his short time in charge.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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