It's been a trying week for us, and for the New England Revolution, too. Saturday night, they will attempt to put all of that behind them and play a meaningful Eastern Conference match against their I-95 rivals, the New York Red Bulls. It won't be easy, but it's the only thing left to do.
In a classy move, the traditional MLS anthem will not be played before the match; instead, "Dirty Water" by The Standells will sound. Revolution and Red Bulls supporters will also take the field pre-match carrying the banner that New York fans unfurled at their match against Kansas City.
The Revs own the all-time series between the two clubs with a 26-19-13 record, but their mark in New York is 8-15-7. Last year, the teams split the series 1-1-1, with the Revs' loss coming at Red Bull Arena.
Today's Q&A is with Matt Coyne of Once a Metro, SB Nation's New York Red Bulls blog.
TBM: New York is a tremendously talented and experienced team with a very inexperienced coach at the helm. It seems somewhat analagous to the 2012 Revs, if you take some liberties with the terms "talented" and "experienced." Kidding aside, how has the mood of the club changed with Mike Petke in charge?
MC: The mood around the club is one of the strangest things I've ever experienced in my (admittedly short) time as a fan: It's positive. Optimistic. Begrudgingly so, but still. It's a little weird and it kind of feels like I'm rooting for the bizarro Red Bulls.
That's not only Petke's doing, though. Andy Roxburgh at the helm helps, since he seems more than willing to throw himself into the (comparative) weirdness of MLS. It seems the Austrian mothership is starting to learn throwing a ton of money around isn't exactly how you win in MLS. That last part is probably the most important thing. It sounds like a simple lesson, but it really isn't.
TBM: Not all results have gone the Red Bulls way so far this year. There have been rumblings that the team is unduly dependent upon Thierry Henry, and that's part of the problem. What are your thoughts on the issue?
MC: I agree with the over-reliance on Henry. It's not that the Red Bulls don't have offensive firepower, they do. It's just that it seems Henry seems to be the keys to start the engine. Without him, there's nothing doing.
The good part (for Red Bulls fans, anyway) is that it doesn't have to be that way. Tim Cahill gets in dangerous places, he just can't buy a goal with that $3+ million salary. Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a Cahill fan, but I think once he gets one, they'll start coming. Peguy Luyindula, who's injured, had a number of open chances on goal that he just couldn't convert. I think he's in the same boat as Cahill. It seems like there's an element of luck that's just not going the Red Bulls way.
Until things start breaking the Red Bulls' way, Henry's the guy through which the Red Bulls live and die. If the Red Bulls want to do any damage, that's got to change.
TBM: This is a self-serving question from me: how unbelievably nice is it to not have Rafa Marquez on your team anymore? Or even in this league?
MC: It's weird. If Rafael Marquez pulled what Juninho did on Wednesday, we'd be up in arms, but, like someone remarked on Twitter, it was weirdly endearing.
But it's great. It seemed most of the Red Bulls fan base was tired of not only Marquez, but the will-he-or-won't-he-be-here situation. Now that he's gone, I can truly appreciate how petulant a child he really was. And from a distance, too. The only way it could be better is if he was pulling for D.C. United what he's doing with Club Leon right now.
TBM: Give us an under-the-radar player Revs fans should watch out for in this match.
MC: Marius Obekop looked fantastically dangerous Wednesday against Sporting Kansas City. If he plays, he could be a difference maker for the Red Bulls. Of our normal starting line-up, I'm not sure anyone's truly "under the radar."
TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
MC: Starting line-up? Not many changes from the week: Luis Robles; Roy Miller, Heath Pearce, Markus Holgersson, Brandon Barklage; Jonny Steele, Cahill, Dax McCarty, Eric Alexander; Fabian Espindola, Henry
If Petke were to make changes, Obekop, Connor Lade and Kosuke Kimura are all likely replacements for Alexander, Miller and Barklage.
Final score? 3-1 Red Bulls. It's going to be an emotional game. I expect the Red Bulls go up early, with the Revs pulling one back, before the Red Bulls run away with things in the second half. The Revs inability to score hurts badly Saturday night.