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Who will the Red Bulls start vs. Chicago?


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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.


  1. kevin g, diego, boyens and leitch in the back for sure. two holding mids in stammler and pietrovallo, dvdb on the left, big mac on the right, magee (with the red shoes) underneath JPA. good luck guys

  2. Here is CCL how it was done for this year:

    USA1: 2007 Major League Soccer Champion (Houston Dynamo)

    USA2: 2007 Major League Soccer’s Regular Season Winner (D.C. United)

    USA3: 2007 MLS Cup Runner-up (New England Revolution)

    USA4: 2007 MLS Regular Season Runner-up^ (Chivas USA)

    ^Slot allocated to the 2007 US Open Cup Champion, but New England Revolution already earned USA3, therefore Chivas USA qualifies as the next highest team (overall points) from 2007 MLS Regular Season

    How this relates to the Fire (or NE or CHV for that matter.) in the race for 3rd best record.

    For next CCL, so far we have

    1. DCU as US Open Cup Champ.

    2. Columbus as Supporters Sheild.

    With Houston as 2nd best regular season record lined up, Fire (same for NE/CHV) if secured #3 in MLS ‘table’ and exited early from the playoffs would need an MLS Cup Final involving any one Houston or Columbus or DCU.

  3. Mbuta n Richards, same difference. As long as one replaces the other early in the second half, I like both players. Truth is I love both these starting XI. But

    what does this say about the new defensement Oso brought in if neither Pietra or Cichero play in this big game. Magee can sit. He had a string of decent games a month or two ago, but all that guy does is waste scoring opportunities on a weekly basis.

  4. I don’t care what those euro-snobs and mexican soccer fans think…i love this league and all the excitement towards the end of the regular season.

  5. How quickly Chihero and Pietravallo go from hero to zero. I’d give both a chance:


    Van den Bergh……..Rojas………….. Richards




    Bench: Mbuta, Boyens, Jimenez, Mbuta, Magee, Boss

  6. kevin,

    I believe 4th if MLS Cup runner up. Given that scenario, placing 3rd overall would only get them to the CCL if the first two regular season teams already qualified through other means. At least thats my understanding of the situation.

  7. Could somebody please clarify how the 4 champion’s league bids are allotted? I tried to find this on MLSnet and on the concacaf website but I couldn’t find it (I know that I read it on MLSnet when they announced the new format, but I don’t remember exactly what it was and now I can’t find that info).

    My memory was that the bids go to:

    1. MLS Cup Winner

    2. Supporter’s Shield Winner

    3. US Open Cup Winner

    4. I don’t remember. 2nd best regular season record, mls cup runner up?? Either way I don’t see how the Fire would be able to win it by winning this game. It somebody could clarify this, that would be great. I really wish that the media made a bigger deal about the competitions other than the MLS season – if Chicago really can win a CCL spot on Thursday than that is pathetic that it isn’t even mentioned on their site.

  8. What good is playing for a Concacaf Champions League spot if all you are going to do is get there and sorry but the MLS playoffs chase is more important!I say don’t waste your time if you are not going to show up.

  9. I think Richards looked better than Mbuta the last game against the Crew, so I hope to see him start the game and Mbuta looked to as a sub. I’m not uncomfortable with Mbuta starting though.

    I agree with the 4-4-2, that’s the best way to go. They tried the 4-3-3 last time, which was interesting given Osorio started a right footed Kandji as a left wing and he said he wouldn’t do that (I for one am glad that he can bend that rule), but I don’t think Kandji was effective. He’s not really a left wing and didn’t play wide enough. So I’m pulling for the 4-4-2 with Van den Bergh in the wide role on the left.

  10. Plus one 1st line up. Dude you could say *I believe you are misinformed* not you suck, lol! Funny on the beer, match ya case of Peroni for a. player helping RB win or b. player helping Chicago lose, haha!

  11. BDR, if the Crew crash out and the Fire win its playoff series, it would host the conference final regardless of being the No. 2 seed or No. 3 seed.

  12. Okay ABM, that was my mistake to say the Fire has nothing to play for. I forgot about the Champions League slot they can lock up with a win. I was thinking strictly MLS playoff implications, and say what you want, but the home-and-home playoff format hasn’t exactly been all that great for the higher seed in years past so to say that playing for the higher seed is all that important is a bit misleading.

  13. Saying the fire have nothing to play for is one of the most disingenuous things I’ve seen on this blog in a long time for all the reasons that have already been said. Home field advantage is certainly something to play for when you consider the Fire’s history vs. the Revs in the playoffs. You suck, Ives.

  14. Doesn’t Chicago have home field advantage (if you consider having the 2nd of the first round games at home an advantage)? If they win and New England loses or ties, they’d finish second in conference. If Columbus crashed out in first round, 2nd place team gets conference final if it makes it, yes?

  15. Ives, I agree with your lineup suggestions, you have chosen the players that need to be on the field, the formation of midfield and forward can and should be varied as the game developes. Rojas is a high quality playmaker and Kandji and Mbuta with Angel in the middle is an explosive forward line. Many will argue that Pietravallo is to good to be left on the bench, but based on the performance of the midfield and the defence against Columbus I think it should be left unchanged.

  16. Even if Hauptman is not offering up a bounty, I am: one case of homebrewed Xmas Ale (7.7% and very tasty stuff!) to the Fire player who scores the game winner against RBNY. Except if it’s Bakary Soumare, who as a Muslim will a case of Sprecher Root Beer or whatever other drink he chooses.

    THE SMALL PRINT: winning player must contact me within two days after the game to claim the award; winner must pick up prize after Dec 1st; I accept no liability for any actions taken after drinking prize; I cannot accept cash payment but will gladly accept a signed jersey “as an expression of gratitude.” Winning players preferred, in no particular order: Thorrington, Rolfe, Blanco, Pappa, Segares.

  17. stan (or anyone else) — do you know if red card suspensions extend into the playoffs? I would think any red/yellow card suspensions would be applied to next year’s regular season games….

  18. I think the lashing we handed out earlier in the season and the final season standings are enough for the Fire organization. Winning on Thursday would just simply be the cherry on top of the sundae.

  19. Osario has to go with the first lineup. Keep Richards out this game. He has great speed, but he can’t dribble past his own shadow. He should also keep Pietravallo out too, and have Rojas in. Pietra makes bad desicions at times, and gets foul happy, and we really don’t need to be a man down in this game. He should also keep the same defense we had last game, considering that defense had a shut out against both Houston and DC. If they keep that shutdown defense, and have keep pressure up top with Kandji and Angel, this game can be won. And as a season ticket holder, I would like to see us in the playoffs.

  20. Certainly right Joe, we don’t have any good options, but as far as the midfield/forward goes, we’ve got some choices as of right now.

  21. I like the the first line up better.

    Signing Mbuta may have been a blessing in disguise…he creates a competition for starting RW. That should force Richards to elevate his game just a bit.

  22. The Fire beating Jersey would *not* eliminate Jersey. It would leave Jersey hoping that DC doesn’t win in Cowlumbus, yes; but have you seen DC’s road record? DC has exactly one tough road win this year; and we’re a lot more beat up now. As a DC fan, I’d love to see it happen; but, uh, very very doubtful.

  23. I would like to see Richards get in there at some point, if he can.

    Other than that, the only player I feel strongly about is Magee. I don’t want him playing at all. His hot streak was great, but typical of him. Last weekend he had absolutely nothing and was awful. With him, it is much more likely that his hot streak is over than he had just a little hiccup. As long as he doesn’t play I’ll be happy.

  24. Ives, with Kanji-Angel-Mbuta up front, are you thinking Osorio wants to have them run Soumare ragged for 70 minutes before inserting Richards?

    Do you also think that by keeping Pietrovallo off the field, it lowers the likelihood of an early booking and/or a potential red card (Juan seems to be getting an undeserved rep these days)?

    It’s certainly an inspired lineup.

  25. Not that you look at games from a NJ perspective only, as you are an MLS writer, but the Fire have more than just screwing NY to play for. Not that they need any more than that. They also want to get 2nd place in the East for 2 reasons: Host the 2nd leg against NE (playing the 2nd leg away hasn’t worked out against NE lately) and staying in 2nd, 3rd overall would give a better chance of playing in the CCL should they not make it to MLS Cup.

  26. Uh the Fire do have something to play for. If they win they lock up the #3 spot in the overall standings, which with the help of a few results could net them a birth in next year’s CCL.

  27. Maybe you know JCO better, but I don’t think he’ll elect Mbuta over Richards. It’s a huge, huge game, and Mbuta is still very green. I think he’d be better suited as some mid second half legs.

    I also don’t know about Stammler over Pietr. I could see Juan getting in there. It’s a good problem to have, and one we’re not used to, to have too many good players. Let’s just hope it carries over to the field.


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