1) How will the absence of Tim Cahill affect this match and the rest of RBNY's season going forward?
After a relatively slow start with the team since joining mid-2012, Tim Cahill has definitely earned the love and respect of New York fans with his aggressive play and goal scoring (six goals since April 27). Cahill's absence will mostly be felt on the offensive end and particularly on set pieces. Fortunately, his MCL tear will only keep him out another three or four weeks, and with Australia already qualified for World Cup 2014, his call-up obligations should be minimized down the stretch of the MLS season. Defensively, Cahill's midfield partner Dax McCarty has shown the past two seasons that he is one of the league's best playing in front of the backline and providing cover when needed.
2) The last time these two teams met, Sporting KC pulled off a 1-0 win. What's different about the Red Bulls this time around and do you see a different result this time?
Two things really stand out in my mind. The first is that new head coach Mike Petke started the season trying to impose a certain style and formation on the team that looked like a 4-2-3-1. It didn't play to many of the starting eleven's strengths and was soon replaced by a more practical and functional 4-4-2. Second, Juninho, famous to Kansas City fans for his stoppage time antics instead of his alleged set piece mastery, terminated his contract with the team and returned to Brazil. While New York is riding a bit of momentum despite the Cahill injury, I'd peg this one for another 1-0 result going KC's way.
3) How does the likely absence of Graham Zusi affect RBNY's game plan?
Zusi has risen from a promising yet little known draft pick to an elite MLS player. His possible absence undoubtedly helps to offset New York missing Tim Cahill from their midfield but it will still be an uphill battle. Without Zusi, the Red Bulls can be a little more offensive minded and worry less about their tendency toward mediocre wing play up and down the field. Getting forward and putting a little bit of pressure on SKC's backline and blonde goalkeeping bombshell Jimmy Nielsen will be critical if the visitors want to have any hope of finding the back of the net.
You can find my answers to Once a Metro's questions here.