Preview: New York Red Bulls Take on Coachless Cincinnati in Season Opener

After a mixed preseason, New York Red Bulls look to get off to a strong start with a win against a well-invested Cincinnati side. Coming off a disappointing 2019 season, Chris Armas has a lot to prove with his youthful squad, having lost both the starting fullbacks from the 2018 MLS Best XI, Kemar Lawrence and Michael Amir Murillo, as well as club legends in Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles. The job is a massive one and many players will have to step up in their new roles.

Denis Hamlett stated at the beginning of the off-season, “We have set up ourselves with our budget that we are in a good position to bring players in to make this team stronger”. However, that hasn’t been the case so far. The only Designated Player signing made this year was the return of Josh Sims on loan from Southampton, while David Jensen joined from FC Utrecht as well as Mandela Egbo joined from 2. Bundesliga club Darmstadt 98. The club has also signed Jared Stroud and Chris Lema from New York Red Bulls II. It is clear to see that the team is going towards youth, which will be very interesting to see how it plays out. 

On the other hand, Cincinnati have had the complete opposite off-season, with massive signings such as Jürgen Locadia and Yuya Kubo both signing Designated Player contracts. Siem de Jong and Adrien Regattin have also recently signed with the team, adding to what is shaping up to be a very interesting roster. Cincinnati are clearly showing that they can’t have a repeat of last season’s disappointing performance and with the new signings, it seems almost certain that they won’t be.

While there have been plenty of positives for Cincinnati this year, not everything has been smooth sailing. On February 17, Ron Jans, who had been head coach of the club since August, resigned over an alleged use of a racial slur while singing along to a song. As a result, Yoann Damet has come back into an interim role. This will no doubt have an effect on the team, as they still look for a head coach days away from the start of the season.

With so many uncertainties for both teams coming into opening day, there will be many questions for both sides to answer. Having never lost to this weekend’s opposition, this Red Bulls side will have a tough challenge on their hands to face the criticism and prove their doubters wrong and come out firing.

Match Information

Date: Sunday, March 1, 2020

Kick-off: 13:00 (EST) | 19:00 (CET)

Venue: Red Bull Arena

Referee: Dave Gantar

Broadcasting: MSG Network (New York)

Head-to-Head

04.27.19: New York Red Bulls 1-0 Cincinnati

05.25.19: Cincinnati 0-2 New York Red Bulls

Current From

New York Red Bulls

Independiente del Valle 2-1 (H) | Phoenix Rising 2-1 (A) | Houston Dynamo 1-1 (N) | Columbus Crew 1-1 (N) | Sporting Kansas City 2-1 (N/Win)

Cincinnati

Sporting Kansas City 4-0 (N/Loss) | El Paso Locomotive 1-0 (N/Win) | Philadelphia Union 1-0 (N/Win) | Nashville 3-1 (N/Loss) | Reykjavik 3-3 (N)

Team News

New York Red Bulls

Injured: Ryan Meara (groin)

Cincinnati

Injured: Jimmy McLaughlin (cruciate ligament)

Absent: Jürgen Locadia

Predicted Line-ups

New York Red Bulls

Jensen – Duncan, Parker, Tarek, Seagrist – Cásseres, Davis – Kaku, Valot – Royer, White (4-2-2-2)

Cincinnati

Richey – Deplagne, Waston, van der Werff, Garza – Medunjanin, Cruz, Amaya – Regattin, Kubo, Gyau (4-3-3)

Press Conference

Tim Parker:

“I think I’m very excited, you know the off-season was a long one, so I’m looking forward to the first game. Obviously it’s coming a little bit earlier in March and then the rest of the season to follow, so I think a lot of the guys are getting pretty anxious now as we get to the last two preseason games. We’re looking forward to the home opener.”

Source: New York Red Bulls

Yoann Damet:

“Everybody’s excited. We’re excited to be back here at home for training, but also excited to have the league that kicks in on Sunday. That’s a good feeling. I think the players are looking forward to start a new chapter and are looking forward to compete.”

Source: Cincinnati

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-1 Cincinnati

By Cole Kutner

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