Daniel Royer turned up at just the right time for the Red Bulls. His brace against LAFC was enough to see Chris Armas and his team grab all three points at home.
Royer has been in great form in recent weeks. Four goals in his last three starts for the team has the Austrian catching fire at just the right time.
The win over LAFC meant the Red Bulls leapt over rivals NYCFC in the East, settling in second place behind Atlanta United. With two games in hand on Atlanta and just four points behind them, the Red Bulls are in a good position to win the Supporters Shield.
The Red Bulls will now travel for their next three fixtures, starting with a trip to Chicago to take on the Fire.
The Chicago Fire are having an abysmal year. Their -13 goal differential is the third worst in the conference while their defense has let in 48 goals in just 24 matches.
Tied with two other teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference on 23 points, the Fire have shown no signs of improving as of late. The team has not won a MLS match since June 30, losing their last six league matches in a row.
Their 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union midweek will do nothing to boost their morale either. With this being the teams third match in eight days, another rough result could be in the cards.
Nothing that head coach Veljko Paunovic does seems to work. From changing formation to swapping players around, the results have largely been the same.
The offense for the Fire has been pretty solid in regards to their record. Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai have 19 goals between the two of them and are a deadly duo up top.
The problems start with an inconsistent and aging midfield. Ex-Red Bull Dax McCarty has been missing matches due to injury and German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger can only do so much at his age.
This leaves a weakened defense out on the ropes to take punch after punch. Richard Sanchez can only do so much in net when his defense offers him such little support.
The defensive frailties should be a big talking point for Armas and the Red Bulls. For a team that likes to start quickly and try to score early, this Fire team is almost too perfect of a target.
Expect to see an early press from the Red Bulls to try and nab a few early chances. The Fire do have the ability to bunker in and hit hard on the counter attack, so Aaron Long and Tim Parker need to be aware of that.
The backline of the Red Bulls got burned quite a few times by Diego Rossi and company when they hosted LAFC. They need to fix those problems quickly if they want to breeze past Chicago.
Armas opted to go back to his trusted formula against LAFC, so expect more of the same against the Fire. A comforting 4231 with Tyler Adams and Sean Davis running the show is just what Red Bulls fans want to see.
Kemar Lawrence did struggle a bit against LAFC, but expect him to be fully recovered and back to his dominant self in Chicago. Taxi will be key in tearing apart the Fire backline with his overlapping runs and dangerous crosses.
An interesting addition to the roster that could show up against the Fire is Cameroon international Anatole Abang joining the Red Bulls. Abang has been a loan warrior the past few years, so it is nice to see his return to the first team.
Abang brings a bit of a different look to the attack should he come in. His bigger stature makes him a solid target man, so if the Red Bulls need a plan b, he could be their man.
It seems unlikely that the Red Bulls will not comfortably win this match. The Fire simply have not been good this season and Armas knows these road matches are huge in the overall standings.
Preaching their usual quick start and press should ensure victory for the Red Bulls as the team continues to roll this season. They are on track for a record breaking year, so they cannot slip up in these types of matches.