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Match Preview: New York Red Bulls vs D.C. United; MLS 2017, Week 7

The Red Bulls’ longest-running rivalry kicks off its 22nd season.

MLS: D.C. United at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls arrive back at home needing to snap the four-game winless streak that has developed over a run of three-out-of-four games on the road. Rival D.C. United will, it is hoped, provide a little added incentive for a performance RBNY would like to see deliver three points after just one has been gained in the last four league outings.

Red Bull Arena has become a fortress for RBNY, currently enjoying a year-long unbeaten streak in league games at home. The Red Bulls haven’t dropped all three points in Harrison in their last 16 regular season games. They will seek to add a 17th match to streak on Saturday, April 15.

Despite the recent run of losses, RBNY is not in bad shape in MLS. Seven points from six games is not imposing form, but it puts the Red Bulls in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings, well-positioned to make a move up the table if the right results can be achieved. The match against D.C. United is the first of three consecutive home games that RBNY surely hopes will be the platform for such results. If the Red Bulls can string together positive outcomes in their next three games, they can right the ship and make their early-season struggles a thing of the past by the end of April.

After a slow start to the season D.C. United has won its last two games, defeating New York City F.C. and the Philadelphia Union at home, coming into this weekend with some momentum.

“In this league you know how hard it is going on the road, and that’s why this game was so important to get the win,” former Red Bull Lloyd Sam said to following the win against NYCFC. “[Now] we’ve got Red Bulls away, a tough place to go. How do we keep it going? We have to show fight like we did today.”

Both teams currently sit outside of the early season playoff picture, but are also only three points out of first place.

Last season, D.C won the Atlantic Cup - the trophy awarded to the winner of the regular-season series between the two sides - with two draws and a win.

Historically, United have dominated the more-than-20-year old rivalry. United lead the all-time regular season series: DCU’s all-time record in league games against RBNY is 34-25-12. Today will be the 72nd time that D.C United and the New York Red Bulls have faced off in the regular season.

But the Red Bulls have lost just one of their last eight games against DCU in all competitions.

Their are a couple of former Red Bulls in the D.C. ranks: Lloyd Sam and Sebastian Le Toux. Sam was traded to the capital last season in exchange for allocation money. Meanwhile, Le Toux briefly played for New York in 2012 between stints with his beloved Philadelphia Union. He joined DCU in the off-season as a free agent.

Players to Watch

Luciano Acosta: It is no surprise that D.C.’s turnaround has been simultaneous with the return of the diminutive Argentine. Acosta scored a goal last week, building off last season’s numbers that saw him score three goals and provide 11 assists.

Sacha Kljestan: The Red Bulls have found it difficult to score this season. Last season, Kljestan seemed to be at the heart of every single Red Bulls goal, but has not looked nearly as dangerous this year. The Red Bulls will need the 20-assist version of Kljestan if they are to have success.