The Loons travel to Harrison, New Jersey to take on the New York Red Bulls, one of the hottest teams in MLS, this weekend.
The Red Bulls are atop the Eastern Conference at 2-0 with a +5 goal differential, and newly acquired forward Lewis Morgan is coming off a week two performance where he scored a first half hat-trick against Toronto FC. Meanwhile, MNUFC have drawn their first two matches of the season 1-1 and have yet to claim three points.
“It’s always a difficult place to go play (Red Bull Arena),” Loons boss Adrian Heath told media Friday afternoon.
The Red Bulls are coming off a 2021 campaign where they managed a 6-4-3 record at home at Red Bull Arena; a formidable fortress that Heath knows will be difficult to break down.
“You know, I don’t think what they do this weekend will surprise us. It’s whether we can cope with it,” Heath said. “It’s gonna be a difficult evening for us…. we know that. But I do think that if we can withstand the early pressure I think that the way that we play will actually cause some problems.”
Loons defender Michael Boxall told media that the week two performance against Nashville SC wasn’t up to par and that the squad’s defensive capabilities will show this weekend – from the opening whistle, onward.
Those capabilities, however, are set to be bolstered by the addition of a healthy Chase Gasper who is set to return from the sidelines after sustaining a concussion injury that kept him out the first two week of the season. Romain Metanire, however, has been ruled out of Sunday’s contest.
“It’s, it’s a lot of variables, but I think usually on the road, you try and have a good foundation and then we’ll allow quality to kind of kind of show up into the game,” Boxall said. “But I think as long as we’re ready to match them off the start and and compete with their directness then we’ll be alright.”
Boxall expanded on how the Red Bulls play a very narrow formation in a 4-2-2 and that they tend to play long, narrow through balls. It’s going to be up to the defense to shut that down early and force them out of their comfort zone.
Three points are on Boxall’s mind heading into Sunday, as the team looks “get over that hurdle” and get their season underway.
“We want to get over that hurdle, just because people keep talking about it but we’re not at the point where it’s weighing on our minds.”