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Know Thy Enemy: Revolution and the Playoff Push Sponsored by Energy Drinks

Familiar foes New England and New York rekindle a rivalry with the Revs looking for another rare road win in a series where road points are supposed to be hard to get.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at New England Revolution Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

With the New England Revolution coming off a strong win last week, they will look to continue their winning ways and playoff push against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison NJ today at 6pm (ESPN+, TV38 & MyRITV).

This also might be one of the Reddest and Bullish RBNY teams in recent memory, with Lewis Morgan leading the attack and a committee of solid players that aren’t exactly piling up the numbers on the scoresheet.

Morgan is good at soccer, he has 13 goals on the year which is well over double the next closest Red Bull players Patryk Klimala and Luquinhas who have 5 goals. RBNY has always been a system is the team kind of squad, but this third place team in the East is the epitome of quiet efficiency.

Aaron Long is back after a long injury spell and is playing well, Carlos Coronel in net is prone to some magnificent spells to help back stop one of the leagues best defenses. Yet RBNY has netted just 45 goals this year, only three more than the Revs in 2022, and have a rather pedestrian 4W-6L-5D record at home.

Obviously this is a well known rivalry where road wins are hard to come by, per MLS in just three of the last 38 meetings between these two teams have been won by the visiting team: RBNY in Gillette back in April, the Revs at RBA last July...and I think the other time was a certain Eastern Conference Final back in 2014.

Anyway, the Eastern Conference is kind of a mess and if the Revs want to make the playoffs, they’re going to need to get results against basically everyone down the stretch. RBNY is likely the hardest road game left on the New England schedule and any result would be a welcome boost to the Revs playoff chances. A looming home game with Montreal is another key fixture and the last one against a team above the Revs in the East.

As always, we chat with our wonderful frenemies over at Once a Metro and Mr. Corkinho himself, Ben Cork about all things Energy Drink branded soccer and just how fine the margins are for RBNY soccer success this season and if they can contend with the Union who just dumped them in a 2-0 loss. As always you can read my answers to Ben’s questions over on their site.

TBM: RBNY lost to the Union 2-0 because Philly is really, really good but did Gerhard Struber notice or dislike something from that loss for his team to focus on this week? What if anything did go right against the Union?

BC: Philadelphia won because they’re a better team right now, but it’s not because they have significantly better players or some genius tactical formula New York hasn’t heard of — they just play their way with their guys every week. Instead of constantly tinkering with formations and personnel and adjusting to the opponent’s shape with a new formation every week, the Union have been playing together for a long time and know each other. When openings present themselves like their two opportunities in the second half last weekend, they know how to take advantage and punish it as a team.

I’ll be frank and say the diagnoses have become a little monotonous from Gerhard Struber after the team’s frequent home losses this season — the players just haven’t been pressing hard enough and/or haven’t gotten enough luck in front of goal. While there is much truth in this statement, it is an insufficient take on something that is clearly a chronic issue by this point of the year, especially knowing the team is capable of winning on the road.

Can you teach luck at the training facility during the week? Hopefully it’s being attempted if that’s the issue.

TBM: We know that in Red Bull Land, the system is the star but Lewis Morgan is good at soccer and having a tremendous year. Talk about why he does so well for this RBNY side and his chances at an MLS First XI spot.

BC: I wish there was a more florid explanation than this, but Lewis Morgan can shoot his ass off. Outside-the-box volleys, quick snipes to a corner, chips over the goalkeeper in stride…the Scotsman has a shot for every situation and can punish opponents with the slightest and most awkward of space. As the New York attack has often sputtered and struggled to create consistent chances over the course of the season, Morgan’s ability to convert the scraps have been the team’s lifeline in 2022. Unfortunately his lack of assists and the existence of more prolific goalscorers in the league limits his MVP case, but it’s been a stunning debut season in New York for Morgan.

TBM: With NYC in free fall, I tend to draw the line of the hierarchy in the East right where RBNY is, but is this a team that can challenge Philly or LAFC in the playoffs this year or is that a step too far? Can this team build up for a possible Shield run again next year?

BC: This Red Bulls are more than capable of winning unexpected results as they’ve shown throughout the year. But their performances often rest on a tactical knife edge — as mentioned earlier, as Struber sees it, if the pressing scheme falters even slightly, the whole deck of cards collapses. The team’s objective in the second half of the season has been to get a home playoff game for the first time since 2018 — but bizarrely they might prefer playing on the road given the issues mentioned above.


Coronel, Tolkin, Sean Nealis, Long, Dylan Nealis, Duncan, Cásseres, Edelman, Morgan, Luquinhas, Fernandez, Elias Manoel

Starting striker Patryk Klimala and early season standout Frankie Amaya have been injured so far this month and it doesn’t appear they’ll be ready for this game. Dominant defender Andres Reyes is also being dealt with cautiously as he returns from long-term injury.

I see this being a 2-2 draw with both teams desperate for a result — New York to turn home form around and New England to make playoffs — but ultimately cancelling each other out.