I recently interviewed New York Red Bulls commentator Steve Cangialosi to preview the upcoming match versus Sporting KC on Wednesday night. Below are some excerpts of the interview.
On NY Red Bulls season
"At home they are the best team in Major League Soccer. 10 wins, 3 draws, no losses. They have not lost at Red Bull Arena yet. The only other team in MLS undefeated at home turf is the Houston Dynamo. Part of that is they are so much more comfortable playing on the surface at Red Bull Arena but also that has to do with the roster that they travel to a lot of away games. "
"So many times when the Red Bulls have either a game on the articifial surface at Foxboro (NE Revolution), as they do in their next game after Kansas City on Wednesday, or a lengthy West Coast trip, they'll reel in the roster. Henry has participated in only a fraction of those games this year. This is probably the strongest roster they've put out in a really long time (last Saturday against Columbus). Rafa Marquez returned to the lineup on Saturday. He played 60 minutes. He was very good, getting an assist on Henry's first goal, but the manner in which he helped control the game almost brought back memories of his best playing for the Mexican National Team. If he's healthy down the stretch, it makes this team so much stronger. It's a domino effect as well. The players brought off the bench in that recent victory (last Saturday) were Teemu Tainio, Joel Lindpere, Sebastian Le Toux. Those are players who could be starting fot a lot of other teams. Right now they are as healthy and loaded for bear as they have been at any point this season. They feel good about themselves going into Wednesday's game against Kansas City."
On 1-1 draw between these teams at LSP on August 26
"The draw they had against Kansas City a couple weeks ago at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park was huge for this team in that they did it without Henry. They knew fully well that they'd get Kansas City two more times at their place where they are so much more comfortable. "
On Red Bulls' approach to Wednesday's match
"They are going to play to win the match. I think the teams that have given them challenges at Red Bull Arena, even though they haven't produced victories yet, are those that excel in counterattack. Portland did that very very well in a game against Red Bulls on August 19th. Kansas City, as New York knows, is very dangerous in that respect even though Bunbury isn't there anymore (injury).
On Graham Zusi
"I think Graham Zusi is a guy getting a lot of attention and rightly so. I think everybody who saw him play in the first half of United States win versus Jamaica last week certainly gained even more respect than they might have had already for him. His 13 assists speak for themselves.
On Sporting KC
"New York a very very healthy respect for everything that Kansas City has done to this point. They respect very much what Sporting Kansas City has done defensively. It's not lost on them.
On Wednesday's match
"This will be a very difficult game for them and it comes at a time sandwiching in three games in a span of eight nights. I think they've circled this game because of that respect for Kansas City and I don't think they'll travel their best team to New England on Saturday because of the artificial surface. I think we're expecting a very good game. I think one of these two teams will win the Eastern Conference even though Chicago is right there at the top with these two teams as well. I think there will be goals on Wednesday night. I don't think either team will be able to to contain the other."
On keys for NY
"I think you've got to look to the goalkeeper, Bill Guadette, for New York. I'm expecting him to his 11th consecutive start (on Wednesady) for this team since coming aboard in a trade with the LA Galaxy. He's being pushed now. The backup goalkeeper is Luis Robles, a player who played five years in Germany. He was brought to New York in the allocation. He's a guy who's made one appearance with the US National Team a couple years ago. There's a competition now. Robles is coming on in practice and Guadette needs to play very well in order to keep this number one job. He (Guadette) is going to be playing with a little bit of pressure and I say that because if there's going to be a change made in goal for New York, I think they'd like to establish that a couple of weeks before the playoffs begin."
"What's been good for NY is that they seem to have finally solidified their back four, which is very important. Holgersson and Pearce are the central defenders, the rookie Connor Lade has been great at right back, and William Conde has played very well at left back. I think that right now Hans Backe has identified that four as the four he'd like to continue in the back and thrive. Rafa Marquez, I believe his role from this point forward for this team will be as a central midfielder, not a defender.
"This team, being able to defend well and Bill Guadette continuing this story book ride in goal at age 31. Those are all things that need to be watched. Right now this team is very deep offensively. They never doubt their ability to score goals but they have to defend well. The jury is still somewhat out as we hit the home stretch (of the season)."