In 2016 there was only one Eastern Conference team that had the Red Bulls' number in the regular season: D.C. United, who RBNY failed to beat despite three bites at the apple - most notably in the last two games at RFK and Red Bull Arena, when blown leads robbed the Red Bulls of the full three points.
But in 2017, the Red Bulls have the edge in the Atlantic Cup chase after knocking off D.C. with goals from Alex Muyl and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The return to the 4-2-3-1 formation, which was gold for BWP and Sacha Kljestan last season, marked an incredible difference in the team's play from the last few weeks.
At times it looked like Steve Birnbaum was going to force Red Bulls fans to experience deja vu from last year's blown lead on September 11th just about every time the DC defender touched the ball. Thankfully, Luis Robles and the Red Bulls defense proved ready for the challenge, and all of his shots were either deflected or sent wide of the goal.
So the Red Bulls extend their (multi-season, over a year long) home-game unbeaten streak, and have yet to surrender a goal at Red Bull Arena in MLS 2017. That may prove a more difficult record to protect over the next two weeks with Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire coming to town...
Here are the RBNY player ratings vs D.C. United
Luis Robles - 10
When you get a shutout, you're a lock for a high score. When you keep a clean sheet and save your defender's bacon and make saves on good scoring opportunities like Robles did, you get a perfect score. (It was his 50th clean sheet for RBNY in all competitions - congrats, Luis!)
Kemar Lawrence - 9
Lawrence is built for the high-press. At times it's astounding that he can run up and down the length of the field so quickly and so often.
Aurelien Collin - 8
A much better performance from Collin this week, as his defending was near impeccable.
Aaron Long - 8
Like Luis Robles, Long has yet to miss a minute of MLS action this season.
Sal Zizzo - 7
A rough game for Zizzo at times, but he made the plays when the team seemed to be in a tough spot.
Tyler Adams - 8
It's beginning to become clear that Adams is not only the definitive starting defensive midfielder for the Red Bulls, but a vital player to the team.
Felipe - 7
Felipe needs to learn to control his emotions better. He picked up a yellow card for dissent, and those cautions can add up quickly if he's not careful.
Alex Muyl - 7
After several weeks on the sidelines, Muyl's return to the starting XI unveiled a more aggressive and creative player.
Sacha Kljestan - 8
If Kljestan were being judged on his second half alone, he probably would've been a 10, but before his second-half explosion he was playing very poorly.
Daniel Royer - 6
Royer's speed is second to none on the team, but his finishing needs serious work.
Bradley Wright-Phillips - 8
As comfortable as Sacha Kljestan looked in the 4-2-3-1, it was Bradley Wright-Phillips who turned the good vibes into his 72nd MLS regular-season goal.
Derrick Etienne Jr - 6
He came close to his first goal, but his finishing needs attention.
Fredrik Gulbrandsen - 7
It will be interesting to see how Gulbrandsen adjusts to life as a 4-2-3-1 Forward.
Damien Perrinelle - n/a
Came in at garbage time to replace Kljestan.