The New England Revolution, despite the hiring of young, energetic Jay Heaps to replace Steve Nicol and a multitude of offseason signings, are off to another shaky start. They sit in eighth place in a weak Eastern Conference at 2-4 and are coming off a loss to second-place D.C. United.
On top of this, they are heading to New York to play the Red Bulls, who are always a dangerous side. How can a team that consists of deadly strike duo Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper not be dangerous?
Despite this, I think the Revs can pull off an upset on Saturday at the Red Bull Arena. Here are some reasons why.
The Revs didn't play last week, giving them time to recuperate and regroup after losing a tight game to D.C. The time off has brought Benny Feilhaber back from injury, giving the Revs a midfield boost.
Jay Heaps will have used this time to focus his players, realizing the strength of his Saturday opponents. Expect Heaps to field a strong, focused, energized team on Saturday.
Speaking of the impact of the bye week...
The Revs' other midfield maestro will be back for the New York game, and this is great news for New England.
Rookie Kelyn Rowe has done a remarkable job in Feilhaber's absence, but the Revs still missed Benny's superb vision and passing. Partnered with captain Shalrie Joseph in the middle, and with (hopefully) Rowe and fellow newcomer Lee Nguyen on the wings, the Revs' midfield carries a huge offensive threat.
Benny is the final piece to the midfield puzzle the Revs have struggled with so far this season.
The reason New York has been winning games is they score a lot of goals. Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry have combined for 15 goals this season through seven games, which is so good it's scary. Henry is tied for league leader in goals scored with Chris Wondolowski with eight goals, and Kenny is in second with seven goals.
Like I said, it's scary how many goals they've scored.
Their defense is a leaky sieve.
While New York is league leaders in scoring, they have conceded the second-most goals (14) with only expansion team Montreal below them.
With the Revs' offense at almost full offensive strength, expect shots to rain down on Ryan Meara's goal.
It got so much worse for New York when center back Stephen Keel and right back Jan Gunnar Solli went down with injuries in the 4-1 loss to D.C. on Sunday. They were added to a growing list of injuries and suspensions that includes Roy Miller, Wilman Conde and Rafa Marquez, who could all fill in the back line.
Red Bulls coach Hans Backe could be forced to go with a back line that could consist of rookie Connor Lade, the inexperienced center back pairing of Jonathan Borrajo and Tyler Ruthven, and Markus Holgersson, who has been struggling.
This would be bad news for New York, as New England's offense is much more experienced and disciplined.
As incredible as it would be if Henry and Cooper kept on their inhuman goal-scoring streak, they have to get tired eventually.
Out of the 17 goals New York have scored this season, Henry and Cooper have combined for 15 of them.
Let me do the math: that's two goals not scored by either of them.
Thierry Henry is one of the greatest goal-scorers of all time. Kenny Cooper is hitting his prime at the right time. However, the pressure of carrying a team, especially one that concedes as many goals as New York does, will eventually get to one or both of them.
My guess is that night is Saturday.
Signed in March from Swedish club Hammarby, Runstrom came on as a sub and played 11 minutes for the Revs against D.C. United. He wasn't given enough time to make an impact on the match, so I think that he should be given the chance to show what he's made of.
Thrust into a big game such as this, he should prove quite the striking partner with fellow new boy Saer Sene. Runstrom has Premier League and Bundesliga experience, and it should translate into success for the Revolution. I can see him bagging his first MLS goal, or at least an assist, on Saturday.