New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire | 2017 MLS Match Preview

Dax McCarty - Chicago Fire - gesturing

USA Today Sports

New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire
2017 MLS Regular Season
Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
Saturday, April 29 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS Live

The Chicago Fire head to Red Bull Arena for the first time in 2017, and while that means Bastian Schweinsteiger will visit the Big Apple for the first time as an MLS player, the spotlight will be on another Fire central midfielder, Dax McCarty.

McCarty, who was surprisingly dealt to Chicago in the offseason after five-and-a-half years of service with the New York Red Bulls, was a fan favorite, captain and a key part of the Red Bulls’ runs to Supporters’ Shield titles in 2013 and 2015.

“I’m going to try to enjoy it,” McCarty said of his return at training on Tuesday. “Obviously the 90 minutes on the field are going to important and we’re going to try to win, but I’ll to try to enjoy everything before that.

“I don’t think I got a chance to say a proper goodbye to a lot of the guys on the team and I don’t think I got a chance to say a proper goodbye and thank you to the fans for the way that they treated me when I was in New York. So I’ll soak in the environment, I’ll soak in the moment, hopefully I don’t get too many boos, but we will certainly enjoy the moment. ”

As far as the current edition of the Red Bulls are concerned, the team seems to be back on track. They’ve won two straight and have played well in three straight, with the only real ding being their continued profligate finishing.

Chicago, meanwhile, finally got brought down off of cloud nine last weekend with their loss at Toronto FC. Still, it’s plain to see they’re a much better team now with  than they were at the start of the season. It’s just a difficult thing to go on the road and get a win in MLS.

New York Red Bulls

Will they eventually go back to the 4-2-2-2 and take a look? Sure. But for now, expect the Red Bulls to stick with the 4-2-3-1 that they swapped back to three weeks ago, as the familiar and comfortable formation seems to have propelled them on this recent run of good form and improving results. It was around this time last year that RBNY really got cooking, and it was for a similar reason.

Playmaker Sacha Kljestan has looked more comfortable and decisive in his play, which is a big key, and both wingers – Daniel Royer and Alex Muyl – have been more dangerous recently while flanking star center forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. It’s a formula that’s proved tough to beat, especially at Red Bull Arena where the hosts are unbeaten in 18 games (15 wins, 3 draws) with 12 shutouts. They’ve yet to concede a home goal in 2017.

  • Suspended: none
  • Int’l Duty: none
  • Injury Report: OUT: D – Gideon Baah (broken leg – out for season); OUT: M – Mike Grella (knee injury); DAY-TO-DAY D – Sal Zizzo (calf strain)

Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Luis Robles – Connor Lade, Aurelien Collin, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence – Felipe, Tyler Adams – Alex Muyl, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer – Bradley Wright-Phillips

Notes: Kljestan has created 212 chances since the start of the 2015 MLS season, the most of any player in the league. The next closest player has 176 (regular season only)… RBNY have won three of the last four home games against the Fire and have outscored them 13-9 along that run.

Chicago Fire

The Fire competed, but couldn’t quite keep up with TFC last week as the Reds finally started to look like the MLS Cup favorites they’ve been billed as. Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty had their typical solid games, and David Accam got a goal off the bench, but the front line had trouble connecting and weren’t as opportunistic as they’d been in their previous three outings, all at home.

Exactly where Chicago stand in the current Eastern Conference hierarchy is difficult to suss out given a couple of outlier results – their 4-0 loss to Atlanta back in March, and their 3-0 win over New England in mid-April. What’s clear is that the central midfield is the strength of this team, and if they’re to build success for 2017 it’s going to come from that part of the pitch.

  • Suspended: none
  • Int’l Duty: none
  • Injury Report: OUT: M – John Goossens (right ankle surgery 3/4, out 5-6 months); QUESTIONABLE: M – Matt Polster (right hip flexor tightness)

Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Jorge Bava – Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent – Dax McCarty, Juninho – Luis Solignac, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Accam – Nemanja Nikolic

Notes: Chicago’s loss to Toronto last week means they have lost seven of their last eight MLS away games and only have one win in their last 45 league away games. They have conceded an average of 3.1 goals in their last eight away games… Chicago have lost 39 regular season games since the start of the 2015 season, the most of any team in MLS. Only one other team has lost 35 or more games (Philadelphia-35).

All-Time Series

Chicago have long dominated the series, but RBNY are 3-0-1 in their last four against the Fire dating back to the middle of 2015.

  • Overall: New York 16 wins (69 goals)… Chicago 26 wins (88 goals)… 11 ties
  • At New York: New York 12 wins (42 goals)… Chicago 11 wins (40 goals)… 3 ties

Referees

Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Jeffrey Greeson
Fourth Official: Rubiel Vazquez

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