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In-form Red Bulls take on the slumping Chicago Fire

Red Bulls group celebration at Toronto FC

PREVIEW – The New York Red Bulls look to further enhance their “road warriors” moniker when they visit the Chicago Fire Saturday night. It’ll be their first meeting of the season and the 70th meeting of all time. Red Bulls haven’t won at Chicago Fire since August 2018, but are currently aiming for an unprecedented fifth straight win on the road to start the season. Both teams are coming off 3-0 scorelines in opposite directions.

Can the Red Bulls continue their impressive road form?

It’s been one of the surprising storylines of the early season. Last season, the New York Red Bulls won just five road games 2021. So far this season, they’ve won four in a row and aim for a fifth consecutive victory to start the year. Should they succeed, New York will be the second team in MLS history to win their opening five road games. Three more points will see the Red Bulls keep pace with the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference.

Last week’s 3-0 result at Orlando City is arguably the Red Bulls’ best performance to date. Their press smothered the hosts, restricting them to just three shots the entire game. A first MLS goal for Luquinhas, as well as goals for Casseres Jr and Lewis Morgan, has this team feeling very confident. The aforementioned “road warriors” tag is well-earned and is also a warning to other teams that New York might just be for real this year. Of the 13 goals scored so far, 11 of them have been on the road, while just conceding twice away from home.

As far as projected lineups are concerned, Gerhard Struber may be tempted to roll out the same starting lineup as last week at Orlando. Caden Clark remains out, while Luquinhas and Ashley Fletcher are starting games now after building up their fitness. Those decisions have left guys like Patryk Klimala and Dru Yearwood on the bench, but it does showcase the depth that wasn’t there last season.

Recent results have slowed down Chicago’s nice start

The shine is slowly wearing off the Chicago Fire. After going unbeaten with two wins in their opening five fixtures, the Fire is now winless in its last three games. Two of those were league defeats and the other was an Open Cup loss on penalties.

Now tied for seventh in the East, they haven’t won in over a month due to injuries and a lack of scoring has put this team in a steady decline. Chicago Fire’s big signing, Xherdan Shaqiri, has only one goal in his first six games, just one of five the team has scored as a whole. In fact, the 10 goal involvements by the Fire – five scored, five conceded – is by far the fewest in the league.

Losing to Minnesota United 3-0 last weekend may signal some early warnings. It was easily their worst performance of the year, and manager Ezra Hendrickson is continuing to search for answers. Kacper Przybylko is the leading scorer with just two goals, on a team barely averaging three shots on target a game. This team also doesn’t create many chances and has three players on one assist each. It’s early, but the Fire needs to pick up the slack on the attack soon.

Tough defenses, but different offenses – Red Bulls Chicago Fire

Yes, these two teams are separated by only four points, however, there’s more in-between the margins that are telling. The Red Bulls have conceded six goals thus far while Chicago has shipped five. The Fire has kept five clean sheets, New York with three and has committed the most fouls per match. However, the attacking units of each team have started on different footings. New York has scored 13 goals, and Chicago only five.

The Red Bulls also rank near the top in terms of big chances created, shots on target and possessions won in the final third. The Fire rank near the bottom in both those categories, highlighting the issues that have deterred their on-field play.

The two teams come together with great goalkeepers. Carlos Coronel of the Red Bulls is amongst the best in the league between the sticks. Gabriel Slonina is the talk of the league, making a name for himself at 17 years of age. National teams are already wanting his services in an effort to cap-tie him, he’s also among the league leaders in clean sheets.

The Fire has won only once at home, while the Red Bulls are on the verge of making more league history on their travels. Chicago won the season series against New York last season, but the dip in form may play right into the Red Bulls’ hands this weekend. The game starts at 8:00 p.m. ET at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The game can be watched live on MLS LIVE on DAZN, WGN-TV, and MSG.

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