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The New York Red Bulls will play their biggest game of the year on Thursday night against the Chicago Fire and Juan Carlos Osorio has some very tough decisions to make.
While the team is shorthanded defensively due to the suspensions of Jon Conway and Jeff Parke, and Carlos Mendes’ looming sports hernia surgery (he has traveled to Germany to have the procedure), Osorio does have a wealth of attacking options to work with. Osorio has the senior roster’s full assortment of forwards and midfielders to work with while trying to come up with a starting XI to beat a Chicago Fire team that could rest some key players
that will have nothing to play for (okay, so Chicago does have a CONCACAF Champions League slot so scratch that last line).
While Chicago doesn’t need a result for its current MLS playoff plans, the Fire does have a Champions League slot to play for, and will certainly be motivated to eliminate the team led by the coach who left them last winter (and I would bet good money that Fire owner Andrew Hauptman is offering up some sort of bounty/prize/reward for his players if they can beat the Red Bulls and eliminate them from the playoffs).
Who will Osorio go with on Thursday night? Here is one possible starting XI:
Van Den Bergh——–Rojas—————-Mbuta
The three most glaring absences from this lineup are Dane Richards, Mike Magee and Juan Pietravallo. I think the positions in question are Mbuta at right wing, Rojas in a playmaking role and Boyens in central defense.
Look for Rojas to get the nod over Magee because of his ability to create. Mbuta could get the nod over Richards because of his better work rate and the fact that Richards might still be feeling the affects of a knee injury suffered recently. Osorio has a choice to make between Boyens and Gabriel Cichero, but given Boyens solid play in the team’s last game, and Cichero’s shocking performances earlier this month, it is tough to argue with selecting Boyens.
The above lineup could also roll out to look like this as well:
——–Van Den Bergh————Stammler———–
This is how I see the squad looking on Thursday. What lineup would you like to see the Red Bulls use against Chicago? Share your thoughts below.