We all remember how it went down the first time. The New York Red Bulls were riding a 6-game unbeaten run when they traveled to Toyota Park to take on the league-trailing Chicago Fire. Jesse Marsch and his side were sent packing in 3-2 loss.
This time around, the Red Bulls are the hosts and Jesse Marsch says they're ready.
"We learned from the last game and we showed in our quick turnaround D.C. that we learned certain lessons and we'll have to apply them again in this game and to make sure from the start, at home, that this game is on our terms in every way."
The Red Bulls are still without right back Chris Duvall, meaning that Connor Lade will most likely start in his position. Marsch is going to have a bit more depth at the back than he had in the last few games, as Kemar Lawrence and Karl Ouimette have both returned from international duty. While either player is unlikely to start, the Red Bulls will also have Damien Perrinelle on the squad. The French center back did not fly to Chicago for the first fixture, but started in the 3-0 win over D.C. United.
Perrinelle's presence could be vital if the Red Bulls are to prevent the Fire from finding the back of the net. In the last game, Kennedy Igboananike was able to score twice thanks to some defensive errors that could have stemmed from Ronald Zubar's lack of chemistry with Matt Miazga. With Perrinelle and Miazga playing together again, RBNY's defense will be a tougher nut to crack.
The Red Bulls are going to need all the help they can get as they enter this crucial stretch in their schedule. They are currently 2 points behind D.C. with 3 games in hand. More importantly, they're 6 points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Supporters's Shield race with the same amount of games in hand.
Players to Watch
Bradley Wright-Phillips has quietly pieced together another amazing season. With 13 goals and 7 assists, the Englishman is 9 points shy of the benchmark he reached last season. While expecting him to notch 9 points in 9 games might be a stretch, BWP has been huge for the Red Bulls this season. Another big game from him would mean 3 points for New York. As for Chicago, David Accam was a huge headache for Lade the last time they might. While the Designated Player only notched one assist, it was arguably one of Lade's worst performances. If Accam gets the better of him again, it could spell trouble for the Red Bulls.
The Red Bulls have the advantage on this one. They're a completely different beast at home, and for some reason, they can never win in Chicago. With Perrinelle set to start this match, they should be much more solid defensively. All the same, Chicago has players that know how to create chances. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if Igboananike notched another goal this time around. Score: 2-1, Red Bulls.