The New York Red Bulls’ roller coaster season continues as the club heads to Illinois to take on the Chicago Fire. Just two months ago, the Fire were the most feared team in the MLS. They won four matches in a row on two separate occasions and seemed impossible to stop. Their free scoring forward Nemanja Nikolic was in breathtaking form and the team was a nightmare to play against both home and away.
Now, after their 2-1 loss to New York City FC in late July, the club has hit a terrible run of form. They have won just twice in their last eight matches, losing the other six. They have kept just one clean sheet in the last two months and their defense has been severely lacking. With 19 goals allowed in their last nine matches, something needs to change for Chicago.
The Fire did win in their last match against the Montreal Impact thanks to a goal from German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger. The ex-Bayern Munich midfielder has not had the most fruitful season statistically, but his leadership on and off the pitch make him a vital asset to both the club and fans alike.
One man who is having an incredible season statistically is David Accam. The Ghanaian midfielder has scored 14 goals this season, just two less than the team leader Nikolic has. Accam has also tallied six assists and continues to impress each and every match. His ability to both create and finish chances makes him a big target for Chicago going forward. The Red Bulls will need to limit his time on the ball and give him just as much attention as they do to Nikolic.
The Red Bulls will still be without Aurelien Collin, as it was reported that the defender is suffering from plantar fasciitis. The defense of Salvatore Zizzo, Aaron Long and Damien Perrinelle did not have the best outing last match against FC Dallas, so coach Jesse Marsch should be looking to change things up at the back.
Since the international break is over, Fidel Escobar and Michael Murillo will be back for selection. Both players are very viable options to start in defense and, with Kemar Lawrence back as well, could end up making the three defenders.
There has not been any news surrounding Daniel Royer and his injury recovery. The forward has been out for what seems like half the season, but in reality has been just a little over a month. With a cup final on the 20th of September, the club could be taking cautious steps in order to either save him for that important match or make sure he is 100% fit for the final playoff push at the end of the season. Either way, Red Bulls players and fans are both eager to see him back on the pitch.
In the midfield and attack, the Red Bulls should see little change in terms of personnel. Alex Muyl failed to impress again against FC Dallas, but Marsch seems very adamant to keep him in the starting eleven and continues to let him see games out. Muhamed Keita did see his first minutes as a Red Bull, so there is a good chance he will feature in the match against Chicago as well.
For New York, this seems like a good time to be playing Chicago. With a handful of injuries piling up and an overall lack of form evident throughout the team, the Fire are not putting themselves in a good spot as the season draws ever closer to its conclusion. Their home stadium, Toyota Park, has not exactly been a fortress for them either, so the Red Bulls have a good chance of getting a positive result away from home.
Due to their recent dip in form, Chicago has dropped to third place in the Eastern Conference with the Red Bulls just four points behind them. A win for New York could be a massive boost in their quest for a playoff spot, but even just a point on the road could be seen as a positive result. The match could end up being a Bradley Wright-Phillips vs Nikolic showdown, but regardless should be entertaining to watch from the first minute to the last.