The last time the New York Red Bulls met the Chicago Fire, the match, played in Chicago, ended with a 1-1 draw. New York had still failed to register their first win of the season and Mike Petke was still fiddling with his favored starting lineup. This time around, the Red Bulls are in the midst of an unbeaten streak and Petke seems to have figured out who deserves to start, while the Fire are still searching for that elusive first win of 2014. Winless or no, the Fire isn't as bad as their 0-2-6 record shows. New York can't go into this Saturday's match lightly or they will be punished.
Here's what we know:
- Titi and BWP are red hot.
It wasn't too long ago that people were deriding Bradley Wright-Phillips for the size of his paycheck and his lack of production, but it looks like those days are gone. Netting six goals on the season, five of which happened in the last three games, BWP is looking like the best strike partner for Thierry Henry since the days of Luke Rodgers. The two forwards have a clear working chemistry with each other that will be even stronger in front of, what all signs are pointing to being, a good size home crowd. As long as those two are able to maintain current form, New York is a difficult side to beat.
- Mike Magee loves to score on New York.
Last year's league MVP, Mike Magee, really loves to score in Red Bull Arena. The last time Chicago came to town, Magee put one away early, quieting a rowdy crowd hoping to see New York win it's first ever piece of hardware. Luckily, Thierry Henry leveled the score a few minutes later with an astounding half volley that set Red Bull Arena on fire (pun not intended) and the boys went on to win the game 5-2. That game aside, this is a whole new season. Mike Magee isn't exactly on pace to match his scoring record last year, but he is absolutely still dangerous. You can bet that he'll be hungry to, once again, put the hurt on his former team.
- RBNY is just better at home.
New York is two for two when it comes to home games and wins. This, their third home match of 2014, should see it raise to three for three.
Here's what we don't know:
- Can New York contain Amarikwa?
One of the many "journymen" of Major League Soccer, Quincy Amarikwa has moved all over the league, never quite finding his spot in any particular starting lineup. The young forward even spent some time with New York (well, his rights did, anyway) before finally landing in Chicago, where it seems like he's being put to the most use. Amarikwa has four goals on the season and has been giving back lines fits all year long. We haven't seen New York's defense being tested over the last few weeks but that will change this Saturday night.
- Can Robles keep the clean sheet?
Luis Robles is having a hell of year to this point. Anyone claiming that he doesn't belong in the MVP conversation clearly hasn't been watching him play. With two clean sheets on the year, can Robles make this Saturday a third? The Fire have scored at least one goal in every game they've played this year and with Magee and Amarikwa up top, that's a tough train to stop.
- What's going to happen?
The Red Bulls' last win was an ugly one. They got some lucky breaks and a ton of help from Luis Robles which led to a full three points on the road. Some may blame the ugly performance on the unpleasant weather in Texas, but it doesn't look like it will be much better here in New York come Saturday night. With temperatures in the eighties, high humidity and the chance of thunderstorms, we're in for another slogging match. Still, Mike Petke is a good enough coach to get his guys to play for a result. It's going to be hard to keep Chicago from scoring, but the Red Bulls should be able to knock a few in themselves. I'm calling this one a 3-2 win.