Teams: New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire
Kick-off: 05:00 a.m. IST at Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
Where to Watch: The game will be live telecasted on DSport, this Sunday
Last Game Played: Aug 1, 2016 CHI 2 – 2 NY
Season Goal leaders: New York Red Bulls – Bradley Wright-Phillips (3 goals), Chicago Fire – Nemanja Nikolic (4 goals)
This Sunday, New York Red Bulls will host holder Chicago Fire, on April 30 at Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ. The match kicks off at 05:00 a.m. and will be televised live on DSport.
This is the first time in 2017, when Chicago Fire will head to Red Bull Arena, and while that means Bastian Schweinsteiger will visit the Big Apple for the first time as an MLS player, the spotlight will be on another Fire central midfielder, Dax McCarty.
McCarty, who was surprisingly dealt to Chicago in the offseason after five-and-a-half years of service with the New York Red Bulls, was a fan favourite, captain and a key part of the Red Bulls’ runs to Supporters’ Shield titles in 2013 and 2015.
Red Bulls currently at the number three in the Eastern Conference club standings. As far as the current edition of the Red Bulls are concerned, the team seems to be back on track. They’ve won two straight and have played well in three straight, with the only real ding being their continued profligate finishing.
Chicago, meanwhile, finally got brought down off of cloud nine last weekend with their loss at Toronto FC. Still, it’s plain to see they’re a much better team now with than they were at the start of the season. It’s just a difficult thing to go on the road and get a win in MLS.
Playmaker Sacha Kljestan has looked more comfortable and decisive in his play, which is a big key, and both wingers – Daniel Royer and Alex Muyl – have been more dangerous recently while flanking star center forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. It’s a formula that’s proved tough to beat, especially at Red Bull Arena where the hosts are unbeaten in 18 games (15 wins, 3 draws) with 12 shutouts. They’ve yet to concede a home goal in 2017.
The Fire competed, but couldn’t quite keep up with TFC last week as the Reds finally started to look like the MLS Cup favourites they’ve been billed as. Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty had their typical solid games, and David Accam got a goal off the bench, but the front line had trouble connecting and weren’t as opportunistic as they’d been in their previous three outings, all at home.
Exactly where Chicago stand in the current Eastern Conference hierarchy is difficult to suss out given a couple of outlier results – their 4-0 loss to Atlanta back in March, and their 3-0 win over New England in mid-April. What’s clear is that the central midfield is the strength of this team, and if they’re to build success for 2017 it’s going to come from that part of the pitch.
New York Red Bulls
Int’l Duty: none
Injury Report: OUT: D – Gideon Baah (broken leg – out for season); OUT: M – Mike Grella (knee injury); DAY-TO-DAY D – Sal Zizzo (calf strain)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Luis Robles – Connor Lade, Aurelien Collin, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence – Felipe, Tyler Adams – Alex Muyl, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer – Bradley Wright-Phillips
Notes: Kljestan has created 212 chances since the start of the 2015 MLS season, the most of any player in the league. The next closest player has 176 (regular season only)… RBNY have won three of the last four home games against the Fire and have outscored them 13-9 along that run.
Int’l Duty: none
Injury Report: OUT: M – John Goossens (right ankle surgery 3/4, out 5-6 months); QUESTIONABLE: M – Matt Polster (right hip flexor tightness)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Jorge Bava – Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent – Dax McCarty, Juninho – Luis Solignac, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Accam – Nemanja Nikolic
Notes: Chicago’s loss to Toronto last week means they have lost seven of their last eight MLS away games and only have one win in their last 45 league away games. They have conceded an average of 3.1 goals in their last eight away games… Chicago have lost 39 regular season games since the start of the 2015 season, the most of any team in MLS. Only one other team has lost 35 or more games (Philadelphia-35).
Chicago have long dominated the series, but RBNY are 3-0-1 in their last four against the Fire dating back to the middle of 2015.
Overall: New York 16 wins (69 goals)… Chicago 26 wins (88 goals)… 11 ties
At New York: New York 12 wins (42 goals)… Chicago 11 wins (40 goals)… 3 ties