Things have turned around for Jesse Marsch and his side.
Less than a month after losing to the Chicago Fire 3-2 in Toyota Park, the New York Red Bulls managed to beat the Fire by the scoreline. The win allowed them to overtake D.C. United in the Eastern Conference standings, but on top of that, they still have three games in hand.
The Red Bulls begin their defense of first place on Wednesday against the New England Revolution. The Revs are undefeated in 22 of their last 23 home matches against the Red Bulls in all competitions. The stakes are high: with a win, the Red Bulls can clinch a playoff berth.
Consistency will be crucial for the Red Bulls, as New England was the first team to successfully exploit the weaknesses in Marsch's high pressure system. At his disposal will be a squad that is almost completely healthy, with the exceptions of Chris Duvall and Roy Miller.
While the win against Chicago was anything but convincing, Marsch will likely stick to the same lineup that also got things done against D.C. United. Although the likes of Gonzalo Veron and Shaun Wright-Phillips have made strong cases to be starters, Marsch seems reluctant to tinker with his midfield - especially as the season nears the home stretch.
The triumvirate of Sacha Kljestan, Dax McCarty, and Felipe will no doubt have an easier time against New England this time around. A timely suspension to Jermaine Jones has made sure of that. Jones notably had two controversial tackles in last year's Eastern Conference Finals that many believed could have led to red cards.
The Revs will instead be relying on a resurgent Lee Nguyen. The former MVP nominee has 3 assist in his last two games, one of which was a 3-0 win over a star-studded Toronto FC.
Players to Watch
The Red Bulls will be relying on Sacha Kljestan's blazing hot form to help them earn a difficult road win in Foxborough. The midfielder has 4 goals and 9 assists in his last 11 games. His efficiency in the attacking third has put the Red Bulls in the position that they are in today: 3 points behind the league-leading Vancouver Whitecaps. As for the Revolution, they're going to need another monster showing from Lee Nguyen. After a slow start to the season, Nguyen has finally found the form that earned him call-ups for the United States Men's National Team.
The Red Bulls found out how to dismantle the Revs the last time they met, but the task at hand still remains a tough one. For the Red Bulls to get three points in Foxborough would be a great surprise. Score: 1-1 tie.