The first two games of the New York Football Challenge are in the books. While it came as no surprise that the Red Bulls dropped their game to Tottenham, I'm shocked that Man City lost to Sporting Lisbon 2-0 on Friday night. They looked terrible in the loss and were completely out-classed. I was under the impression prior to the match that the English side had the better team thanks to the spending of their ownership. But it doesn't matter who has the better team on paper because on any given day anyone can win.
In the first game of this tournament, the Red Bulls saw great play from Bouna Coundoul, Tim Ream, Joel Lindpere, and Macoumba Kandji. Oh and some guy named Thierry Henry played well too I guess. Today Juan Pablo Angel should see some playing time after taking the last game off to let his sprained ankle heal up. We'll get to see how he and Henry play together and I think it's safe to assume all Red Bulls fans hope it works out. Mac Kandji should be moved into the CAM position today flanked by Joel Lindpere and Dane Richards. Until the official line ups are announced we won't know but that's just what my gut instinct says Hans Backe will do.
Bouna Coundoul was stellar for the first half against Tottenham keeping a clean sheet through 45. It was only when Backe subbed in Greg Sutton that the Red Bulls gave up two goals to lose the game. Bouna has been playing very well since the beginning of June and I hope he can continue for the remainder of the season. It was nice to see the Red Bulls starting XI not only keep up with the EPL side but also have a 1-0 lead going into the half.
My expectations for today are a tough game for the Red Bulls. If we can play as we did against Tottenham it isn't outside the realm of possibility for us to come away with a win. When I say that Man City looked abysmal against Sporting, I'm not over exaggerating. They were out played on both ends of the field and didn't have many scoring opportunities. The combination of Henry and Angel should create some match up problems and if Joel Lindpere has space to work, he should be able to deliver the ball to both strikers.
Other thoughts after the jump...
- It will be interesting to see how Henry plays against his French National Teammate Patrick Vieira. They have a history beyond the national team as they were on the same Arsenal Squad.
- It will be interesting to see how Man City bounces back. Their back line couldn't handle the speed of Sporting Lisbon and the Red Bulls have the ability to play a fast paced game if needed. The only impressive play came from Brazilian Jo Silva, who created some chances for his side. Unfortunately, the rest of his team didn't come to play and left the striker stranded.
- The Brazilian trialist that was discussed this past week should see some playing time. He's impressed Backe in practice. Look for Marcos Paullo to see some time on the field. If he does play well, it is possible the team could sign him as a late season addition.
- Thierry Henry took the PATH to the game Thursday night. Chances are he doesn't ever do that again.
- The winner of the Spurs/Sporting game takes the Challenge cup. It would be nice to come away today with some bragging rights over a highly respected Manchester City team.