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Know Thy Enemy: Revolution vs The Energy Drinks Comeback Tour

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SOCCER: MAY 22 MLS - New York Red Bulls at New England Revolution Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I could have sworn I wrote this a month ago...why the heck are the New York Red Bulls coming back to Gillette Stadium? Who did they piss off at the scheduling office?

Anyway, the New England Revolution are on a roll. They’ve won four straight games, have only lost once all season, and beat RBNY almost a month ago to the day.

That win however was aided by some shenanigans from centerback Andres Reyes who scored a Gordie Howe hat trick of sorts with a goal, yellow, and second yellow to red card in the first half half. However, since that game RBNY has rattled off a solid winning streak of their own and vaulted up to 5th in Eastern Conference standings.

Have the Energy Drinks turned a corner or will the team that is 0-3 on the road and known for strange things happening against them in New England show up today. I get to find out in person this time everyone, hopefully will get a nice view of today’s game from The Fort.

As always we chat with Ben Cork, managing editor over at Once A Metro. Be sure to check out my answers to Ben’s questions over on their site.

TBM: Since that 3-1 loss at Gillette, RBNY rattled off two wins at home against Orlando and Nashville. How important was that little homestand for the RBNY season and is 5th place were you expected them to be at this point in the year?

BC: Hugely important. Just yesterday, center back Sean Nealis said that after the New England game the team did some serious soul-searching and needed to envision what success looked like. They showed what success looked like in the Orlando and Nashville games, putting in near-flawless performances even with continued roster upheaval.

5th place is probably about where fair RBNY observers would have expected this young, newly-assembled squad to be at if they played well. Gerhard Struber and his players have been adamant in recent days about wanting to move to the next level with wins on the road, which would put the top spots in sight.

TBM: The Revs lost at Nashville 0-2 for their only loss of the year, but did so in a 4-4-2 that didn’t work for them. Is there something specific for RBNY in either formation/pressure/tactics/etc that worked well last week in particular against a usually stout defensive side like Nashville?

BC: As I wrote earlier this week for OaM, the Red Bulls are forcing the ball into crowded defenses through the deployment of two big physical strikers in Fabio Gomes Netto and Patryk Klimala. In the first half against Nashville, the Red Bulls stuttered a bit with short, sideways passing. Struber signalled to his players to try more direct balls to the strikers, and it paid off with the first goal scored by Fabio off a flick from Klimala. As the game went on, the Red Bulls’ front-footed pressing tactics encouraged a fullback like Kyle Duncan to get forward and look for space, which he found in scoring the second goal against Nashville. Unlike the high-pressing Red Bulls teams of the past, this one isn’t going to wait for opponents’ mistakes to force the ball towards the goal.

TBM: Fabio Gomes Netto scored his first goal for RBNY last week, stealing a page from the Caden Clark playbook it was an absolute banger. How key is it to get him and Klimala going up top with Casseres away on international duty?

As I hinted at above, goals would be the final touch on a Red Bulls’ striking unit that has already been productive in pressing on defense and creating scoring danger for onrushing midfielders. With both players now finally at full fitness and playing together (Nashville was their first starting pairing) fans are looking forward to conversion of the chances they’re gradually creating more of.

Unavailable: Aaron Long (achilles), Cristian Casseres (international), Daniel Royer (thigh), Andrew Gutman (knee), Youba Diarra (hamstring)

Projected lineup

GK: Coronel

D: Kyle Duncan, Andres Reyes, Sean Nealis, John Tolkin

M: Sean Davis, Dru Yearwood, Frankie Amaya, Caden Clark

F: Fabio Gomes Netto, Patryk Klimala

Prediction: 2-1

The Red Bulls have a confident air about them after consecutive convincing home wins, with Patryk Klimala remarking after Nashville that “we will win the game.” I think they’ll back it up and continue their form from the first 20 minutes in Foxboro last month over the entire match this time