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TBM Predicts with FIFA15: New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution, Eastern Conference Final Second Leg

Jake's XBOX 360 has been just as impressive as the Revolution during this playoff run, but how will the virtual Red Bulls cope without suspended striker Bradley Wright-Phillips in this week's FIFA15 simulation.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

I had to do a little more playing with this simulation for two reasons, first my internet is awful at the moment and it doesn't want to load match day squads for today's game (or subsequent update for FIFA15 but it eventually happened). That means the default rosters are all we have but thankfully everyone in the starting XI is on the roster but we'll have to go without the in-form attribute bonuses and penalties.

The second issue is I usually try to avoid changing the lineups, mostly because injuries are difficult to predict, but Bradley Wright-Phillips suspension had to be reflected by dropping him from the gameday roster. That meant having to really tinker with the Red Bulls lineup to get them into an effective formation. This will either work really well, or it won't and we can all blame my starting lineup for New York if this goes bad. But I think it's an aggressive change for the Red Bulls and it reflects their situation in the series, needing at least two goals to advance or force extra time at a minimum.

Last week we correctly had the Revs winning by one goal, although the simulation had it just 1-0 for the Revs instead of the actual 2-1.

REVOLUTION LINEUP (4-2-3-1)

Bobby Shuttleworth; Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell; Jermaine Jones, Scott Caldwell; Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury; Charlie Davies

RED BULLS LINEUP (4-4-2)

Luis Robles; Ambroise Oyongo, Ibrahim Sekagya, Jamison Olave, Richard Eckersley; Eric Alexander, Dax McCarty; Tim Cahill, Lloyd Sam; Thierry Henry, Peguy Luyindula

Basically, the defense remains the same but there wasn't a great way to put Cahill in the lineup unless I did a straight swap at striker for BWP but I didn't like that. Also with Henry playing on turf I wanted to have him as high up the field as possible, so I gave him a strike partner in Luyindula, moved Alexander wide left and plugged Cahill in the middle next to Dax. No changes for the Revs as we think Rowe is good to go after being subbed off last week with an ankle knock.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Three minutes in and virtual Baldomero Toledo already has some words following an awkward challenge from Charlie Davies, the one where you hit the cross button and then slide tackle someone. No caution issued there and ten mintues later it's Luyindula to chops down Farrell at the top of his penalty area and everyone's getting warnings early. The game is bogged down in the midfield for the first twenty minutes before Henry gets on the end of a cross and takes a shot that looks well wide but Shuttleworth makes a kick save for a corner, which comes to nothing. The Revs have been swarming on defense, as Caldwell forces a turnover and gets it upfield to Nguyen to start the counter. The Red Bulls force two deep attacking throw-ins before Davies tries to head one in from Rhode Island and it's high and wide. Some nifty passing in the final third see Caldwell play a through ball to Davies but his cross to Bunbury making the curling run is cut out by Eckersley. The halftime whistle blows with only Henry's effort on goal to show for a first half where the Revs held a 60-40% edge in possession.

Ten minutes in and this is where these simulations drive me nuts. Henry and Nguyen just dribbled into the penalty are and never shot the ball, just got dispossessed on the dribble. Luyindula gets open down the left but Andrew Farrell runs him down and forces a corner kick. The Revs clear it and immediately start a counter, Davies finding Nguyen on a first touch give-and-go but an amazing tackle from Olave ends the threat and leaves Nguyen looking for a penalty. Substitute Daigo Kobayashi then slots one in to Charlie Davies, who fakes out his mark, turns and scuffs one into the side netting past a wrong-footed Robles and the Revs lead 1-0, and 2-0 aggregate in the simulation. Chris Tierney thwarts a Red Bulls counter by dispossessing Saer Sene who came on seconds before and the Red Bulls are down two with ten minutes to play. A Bobby Shuttleworth punt causes Patrick Mullins to be offside, yes, that occurred and it's a highlight given the amount of shooting that's happened in this game. Bobby Convey takes an awkward sideways volley that has no chance of landing anywhere but Row Z, and Toledo signals full time.

WHY THIS SIMULATION WILL BE RIGHT

Because the Red Bulls will have to attack more directly without Wright-Phillips in the box since there's not an ideal target man in the box to get onto the service from the wings. The Revolution were spectacular in defense, only allowing one Henry shot from a tight angle that was probably going wide anyway. Farrell and Tierney shut down the wing play while Soares and Goncalves took out the strike pair of Henry and Luyindula. Caldwell was a surprising force in the midfield, winning the ball several times and also getting involved in the possession game deep in the Red Bulls half.

WHY THIS SIMULATION WILL BE WRONG

Because players actually take shots, not dribble into the box aimlessly like these virtual idiots do. Nguyen and Henry had two decent chances to shoot and opted to cut back into a double team both times. Also, my modified Red Bulls formation was not helpful in allowing New York maintain possession, since once the ball got forward to Henry or Luyindula, they just dribbled forward and lost it. I expect Petke to have to tinker with his starting lineup but I think in the end their preferred 4-2-3-1 formation could still win out in the end.