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How You Doin'? Match I – New York Red Bull, Meeting the First

Once a Metro stops by for a chat ahead of the first game of the season in New York against the Red Bulls

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of Sunday's kickoff, Waking the Red exchanged questions with Jason Iapicco of SB Nation sister-site, Once a Metro, covering topics from the sophomore season for Jesse Marsch and Ali Curtis, the back-line strength following the departure of Matt Miazga, and the raft of homegrown signings announced in the off-season

Jason's responses can be found below:

Question the First
Jesse Marsch and Ali Curtis enjoyed quite a successful debut season at the helm of the Red Bulls following those unforgettably entertaining town-halls. But have they done enough in the off-season to repeat their Supporters Shield glory? How are the fans feeling about the braintrust after such a quiet winter?

The Starting XI has stayed pretty much intact. The only changes from the team that entered the playoffs in an injured Damien Perrinelle (who is expected back by May) and Matt Miazga who was sold to Chelsea. The age of the Starting XI is mostly under 35. The fact that the front office has not only maintained a great deal of the team, but at a young age, it speaks volumes. The team is only going to get better when Gonzalo Veron enters the lineup (picked up a hamstring injury in preseason) and adds another dimension to the midfield.

The fans are obviously excited. We're coming off a second Supporters Shield in three seasons, the team is intact, and looks to grow off of the philosophy implemented by Marsch and Curtis last year.


Question the Second
Given the departures of Matt Miazga and Roy Miller, though the latter may be viewed as a blessing, and the questionable fitness of Ronald Zubar, have they bolstered the back-line adequately to survive a gruelling MLS season? And what does the season hold for Canadian Karl Ouimette?

Roy Miller's departure isn't any big loss. He did not factor in as a starter as Kemar Lawrence took over the starting left back spot relatively early last year. Zubar is a year older, but he only really needs to last until Perrinelle is good enough to get back into the starting lineup. More important, the Red Bulls, less than 2 weeks after Miazga's departure, acquired Gideo Baah, a 24 year old Ghanaian defender. Baah is projected to be Miazga's replacement. Karl Ouimette could see some significant playing time if Zubar has injury and/or discipline problems early on. He also could factor in when the team has to start rotating the squad for the US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.


Question the Third

New York turned some heads with their homegrown signings in the winter, making use of the talent in the local area to round out the squad. All fans love the homegrown program, but are those players expected to contribute this season and who amongst them should fans elsewhere keep a close eye on?

Most of the homegrown players signed this year will probably see most of their playing time with New York Red Bulls II in USL. The Red Bulls have proven depth on the senior squad, so there's no reason not to send the young guys down to USL to get some more consistent playing time. If any players do make an appearance, it'll probably be on the defensive side, but if the back line stays healthy, they won't be called on.


Barbed Question
How does it feel to be the second most talked about MLS team in the New York/New Jersey area? That's got to sting a little bit, no?

What? I'm sorry, I can't hear you too well. You're breaking up.


Lineup?

(4-2-3-1) Robles; Kemar Lawrence, Gideon Baah, Ronald Zubar, Chris Duvall; Dax McCarty, Felipe Martins; Lloyd Sam, Sacha Kljestan, Mike Grella; Bradley Wright-Phillips

Prediction?

RBNY 3-2 TFC. The Red Bulls have been doing well on offense this pre-season, but at the same time, the back line still has to take time to be on the same page. They haven't truly faced a ready MLS offense yet, so a goal fest can be expected.


And WTR's responses can be found here.

A huge thanks to Jason for taking the time to provide some insight on New York. He can be followed on Twitter and be sure to swing by Once a Metro for all the latest ahead of Sunday's match.