The last two New York Red Bulls home games have gone about as well as anyone could ask for: back-to-back wins against Conference opponents, with many young or struggling players playing well and the defense shutting out their foes.
But Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire promises to be the most emotional game of the season. Former Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty, a club icon and one of the best midfielders in MLS, will appear in Red Bull Arena for the first time since his controversial trade to the Fire back in January.
McCarty was not only the leader of the team, he was a key player in the club's two Supporters' Shields titles, a dominating presence at defensive midfield and remains one of the most dangerous set-piece marks in the league. Set pieces are, of course, one of the Red Bulls' biggest weaknesses so far this season.
As if McCarty and superstar midfielder Juninho weren't trouble enough, the team recently acquired soccer legend Bastian Schweinsteiger - and the early results from the former German national team captain have far exceeded expectations, scoring twice in his first four games for the Fire.
Hopefully the Red Bulls have been practicing their set piece defense more than usual, because they'll need it against Chicago.
Here is the RBNY predicted XI vs Chicago:
Bench: Ryan Meara, Damien Perrinelle, Sal Zizzo, Sean Davis, Derrick Etienne Jr, Fredrik Gulbrandsen, Gonzalo Veron
Red Bull Arena has been kind to the team this season, but without at least a draw to close out this three-game home stand, the team could lose significant momentum before a tough road stretch against Sporting KC and Philadelphia.
What do you think?