The Red Bulls got it wrong against Orlando. The team looked flat going forward, lacked creativity, and overall struggled against an Orlando City team that deserved a positive result after their performance.
Fate decided to play a deadly hand to the Red Bulls as ex-captain Sacha Kljestan slotted home a 73rd minute goal, with Joao Moutinho grabbing the assist. This was Kljestan’s only shot of the match while he created one other chance and won 12 duels through his 90 minute stint.
Kyle Duncan was caught out of position for the goal, letting Moutinho free down the Red Bulls’ right side. Tim Parker was caught off balance as the ball wizzed through the 18, giving Kljestan his easy chance.
Orlando keeper Brian Rowe had quite a solid match, making three saves while overall commanding his area well. Bradley Wright-Phillips had a few key chances throughout the match, but Rowe stood firm and kept the Red Bulls off the scoresheet.
The Red Bulls defense was clearly not as strong without Aaron Long and the continued absence of Kemar Lawrence. Connor Lade also was subbed off just 26 minutes into the match, so the already thinned defense was stretched further.
Lawrence should be back for the match against the Fire as both him and Long return from international duty. Another player that has been absent is Kaku, who is also back from his time with Paraguay.
Kaku played 68 minutes in the 4-2 loss against Mexico on the 26th of March. The midfielder has not featured for the team in MLS play yet, so he could see his first minutes of the season against the Fire.
Armas will be eager to get Kaku back on the field as the team clearly lacked offensive creativity against Orlando. Chicago have been leaky at the back this season, so this would be a perfect time for the Red Bulls to reignite their offense.
Chicago has conceded seven goals through the first three matches, including four at home to the Seattle Sounders. The team continues to ignore the need for defensive reinforcements, instead opting to sign another attacking player to their roster.
Benfica and Atletico Madrid midfielder Nico Gaitan joined the Fire just days ago and could see his first minutes against the Red Bulls. The Argentine is a creative winger, a technically dribbler and excellent chance creator.
His partnership with Nemanja Nikolic and Charles Sapong could prove deadly. Sapong especially, who has been in rich form since joining from the Union in the summer. He has two goals and an assist in three appearances, leading the team in overall contribution.
Sapong is still infamous amongst Red Bull supporters for his hattrick against the Red Bulls back in 2017. He can be deadly with the right service, so Luis Robles needs to keep a strong command of his backline this match.
The Red Bulls split the season series with Chicago last season as each team won the away fixture. BWP was the hero at Toyota Park with his second half goal as both Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai scored in the Fire’s win at Red Bull Arena.
This game is a bit of a toss up, especially considering the recent form of both teams. The Red Bulls still look a bit disjointed, lacking in attack while having lapses in defense at the wrong time.
Although Chicago is winless, the team is more than capable of scoring goals. They scored in each match this season, so the Red Bulls defense will need to be alert at all times. It may be tough to hear, but a draw would be a solid result for Armas and his men.
This may not be the best outcome, but getting a point on the road is big in MLS. The Red Bulls are still stuck in first gear, so any sort of positive result away from home will be big. An offensive resurgence would be welcomed, but simply scoring would be a welcomed sight. It is a long season ahead, but the Red Bulls cannot go too long in this vein of form.