After the devastating drop from the CONCACAF Champions League, the New York Red Bulls surprised many - perhaps even themselves - by pulling off a 2-1 comeback victory against Atlanta in front of over 50,000 hostile fans.
But now RBNY is back at Red Bull Arena for a showdown with the 2016 Supporters' Shield runners-up, Colorado Rapids.
Despite losing and drawing their last two matches at RBA - against Montreal and Vancouver respectively - the Red Bulls are currently riding a 14-game unbeaten streak at the Arena in the MLS regular season and have not lost a regular-season match since July 3rd.
Of course, the Red Bulls will have to battle the elements as well as the Colorado attackers. With temperatures dropping to the low 20s by sunset, the Rapids will be much more in their element than the Red Bulls. Just as a reminder, last year's three worst-weather games for the Red Bulls were all losses: Home vs Sporting KC, Away vs Colorado, and Home vs Montreal (MLS Cup playoffs).
No weather forecast will bother the Rapids though, who were by far the toughest team to take three points from last season. Though they were tied for second fewest goals scored, they allowed a mere 32 goals all season - thanks in large part to superstar defender Axel Sjoberg and the superb goalkeeping efforts of Zac MacMath and Tim Howard.
Though it appears that the Red Bulls are struggling to adapt to the 4-2-2-2 scheme and may even be losing a step on speed, the ability to make adjustments at halftime served them well in Atlanta and will hopefully continue to do so throughout the season.
Here is the RBNY predicted XI vs Colorado Rapids:
With a start on Sunday, Robles will set a new record for consecutive MLS regular-season appearances.
Aurelien Collin - After a surprise night on the bench against Atlanta, we should expect Collin to get back into the lineup, especially in a game that will likely be a big defensive struggle.
Aaron Long - After a solid debut in MLS for Long, the Red Bulls shouldn't need to feel too panicked about losing Gideon Baah (as long as his replacement is on the way).
Sean Davis - So far Davis has underwhelmed as the replacement for Dax McCarty. Could an imminent MLS debut for Tyler Adams cause another logjam at DM?
Alex Muyl - The fact that Mike Grella is getting minutes with NYRB II indicates that he isn't quite ready to go full-throttle in MLS action just yet. Muyl should get the start, but it's very possible he could be subbed out early if he performs poorly.
Bench: Ryan Meara, Damien Perrinelle, Justin Bilyeu, Michael Murillo, Dan Metzger, Derrick Etienne Jr, Mike Grella
Before Luis Robles came along and began a history-making run of consecutive minutes, a strong argument could be made that Tim Howard was - if not the best goalkeeper in MetroStars history - certainly its most talented. Howard's skill in the net was so great that Manchester United scooped him up, and he went on to be Everton's preferred starter for a decade. Now he's back in MLS with the Colorado Rapids and a part of a team that went from 19th in 2015 to second in the table in 2016. Howard's continued excellence in goal makes him a major X-Factor in this game - because even the best chances the team gets might not be good enough to get past him.
What do you think?