The New York Red Bulls are feeling good about themselves right now and they know they need to continue this good feeling, and extend the two-game winning streak that sustains it, against Orlando City on Friday Night.
If the match-up feels familiar, it is because the current air of optimism about RBNY arrived just about two weeks ago, when these clubs last met. In a topsy-turvy game, the Red Bulls emerged triumphant after conceding early but bouncing back late.
But Orlando City will present a different sort of challenge this time around. Home field is always an advantage in MLS, but the Lions will also be boosted by the presence of their game-changer, Kaka.
"I think it will be a little bit different because Kaka will feature in this game so we will be prepared for that." said Jesse Marsch, "We know that playing in Orlando will be different than playing at Red Bull Arena. We know what they are about, they know what we are about and it's going to be a great match up."
Orlando holds special significance to RBNY's Ginger Ninja: Captain Dax McCarty is a native of Winter Park, Florida and he is understandably excited about going back to the Citrus Bowl to take on the local side. "It's always fun to go back down there and see all my family and friends, but this is not a social trip." said McCarty, "But this is a big game for us as it is a big game for them, but we are by no means out of the woods. It's developing into a very good rivalry and it's been getting a bit heated. We know it's going to be a very hard game going down there on the road."
For Lloyd Sam, the priority is to maintain the team's hard-won momentum: "We are a confident team, we never lost confidence but it's nice to see the results match it," he said, "But we haven't gotten any points on the road and hope to change that in this one."
Of course, Sam knows OCSC will be a different side with Kaka back in the lineup: "He changes things a lot and he is their best player, so we need to be aware of what he does."
The Red Bulls are ready. So too, we can assume, are the Lions. Aurelien Collin has switched sides in the short time since these teams last met; Kaka is back; RBNY finally looks like the team that won last year's Supporters' Shield. It should be a fantastic match-up between two sides urged on by two of the more passionate coaches in the league. Keep an eye on the sidelines: both Jesse Marsch and Adrian Heath can put on a show things heat up on the field.
And with the memory of their last meeting fresh in the minds of players, coaches and fans, there could well be some heat on the field when these teams meet again this Friday.