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Red Bulls out to ruin another Revs' postseason
by Ridge Mahoney, October 26th, 2007 7AM

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[MLS PLAYOFF PREVIEW] More than few fans and pundits believe this is the season the Revs finally break their jinx and win the whole thing. They lost the 2006 final on penalties, lost in overtime in 2005, and were also beaten in overtime in 2002 in front of the home crowd. They must be due. Maybe. In their first full season under Coach Bruce Arena, the Red Bulls are far from the finished product. But they are potent going forward and have a lot of big-game experience in Juan Pablo Angel, Dave van den Bergh and Claudio Reyna.

 

NEW YORK (12-11-7) vs. NEW ENGLAND (14-8-8)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol
Season series: New England (2-0-1). Goals: 5-3.

GOOD. Two traditional finishers will go head-to-head, yet both like to join in the attack early as well as front it. Angel is a constant presence with his mobility, timing, and instincts. His 19 goals and four assists will probably earn him league MVP honors. Taylor Twellman (16 goals) epitomizes the lunch-pail striker with his relentless work-rate.

Both midfields are dynamic. Rookie Dane Richards and Reyna spark the Red Bulls attack, and Jozy Altidore saw some midfield time at the end of the season. Revs Shalrie Joseph and Steve Ralston (league-high 14 assists) are among the league's best.

Revs defender Michael Parkurst's third MLS season has been excellent. His anticipation and quickness are especially essential on fast, synthetic surfaces, and he's pretty good on the wet stuff, too.

BAD. NYRB's back line has seldom looked secure this year and both keepers, Ronald Wattereus and Jon Conway, have struggled at times. The Revs finished the season with two losses and a tie. Dorman hasn't registered a goal or an assist since July 7.

UGLY. Both games will be played on artificial turf, which negates any real advantage for either team but makes for skittish, high-bounce, soccer.

UNKNOWN. Arena has difficult choices in central defense and in goal. Andy Dorman's productivity in midfield fell so sharply Coach Steve Nicol moved Ralston into the middle to kick-start the attack.

KEY MEN: If Dane Richards can get behind the Revs' back three and Altidore is the real deal, New York can get enough chances to knock off New England. Pat Noonan is the wild card in the Revs' deck; by holding the ball and playing it crisply, he can bust the Red Bulls' bank.

BOTTOM LINE. The improving Red Bulls would be prime upsetters if their defense could be counted on, but since it can't, the Revs are solid favorites.

 



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