After going through a stretch where the New York Red Bulls only won one game in their previous nine, it seems as if things are starting to take shape for New York as we hit July 4th.
After defeating Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Red Bulls Arena on June 20th to stop their skid of four consecutive losses, the Red Bulls showed a gutsy effort against their new instate rival NYCFC to win back-to-back games. The Red Bulls went down 1-0 early thanks to NYCFC’s fastest goal in club history thanks to Tommy McNamara in the sixth minute. But something must’ve clicked during halftime, as New York’s older team dominated the second half.
Bradley Wright-Phillips rejoined the scoring scoring column in the 47th minute and brought back his dance that seemed to send the message that everything was going to be okay. If that was his message, it worked, as the Red Bulls scored six minutes later to take the lead, in addition to a header goal by defenseman Matt Miazga later on in the match.
Two wins can truly change the narrative. Their previous stretch of poor play had them below the playoff cut line (albeit early in the season) and head into their match against the Columbus Crew in fourth place of the Eastern Conference standings with 23 points. Columbus is on the cut line, currently sitting in sixth in the conference with 21 points; there’s still plenty of flip-flopping in the standings to come.
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The Crew are riding a three-game unbeaten streak with two draws against Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake bracketing a win against the New England Revolution.
The Red Bulls defense will be in the spotlight for the Independence Day contest, as Columbus is the highest-scoring team in the conference thus far. There are only two teams in the Eastern Conference that have 25 goals, Columbus and New England, and Columbus has played two fewer games than the Revolution. So far, the Red Bulls defense has been answering most of the punches thrown at them this season.
New York has only allowed 20 goals heading into today’s contest. Toronto FC is the only club that has fared better in the Eastern Conference, allowing one fewer goal in one fewer contest. New England has only given up 18 goals, but have played a league-high 21 games played, five more than the Red Bulls.
The two clubs have already met this season on March 28th in Columbus. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Mike Grella scored second-half goals as the Red Bulls walked away with a 2-1 victory. Aside from this season’s matchup, the Red Bulls have historically had success against the Crew on the road, taking points in five of their last six visits to Columbus.