Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls
Venue: Toyota Park – Wednesday, August 26 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)
Match Odds: Chicago Fire 15/8 – Draw 12/5 – New York Red Bulls 5/4
Chicago have endured a tough season that has failed to ever pick up. They sit bottom of the table and have the fewest points in Major League Soccer after 24 games. Frank Yallop’s side have won just one of their last seven and look like a team that knows it won’t make the playoffs.
A 1-0 home loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday was a real blow and they are now five points off Montreal Impact in sixth place with ten to play. Time is running out and the Fire’s performances are lacking the urgency they require.Embed from Getty Images
A clash with the league’s most in-form team will pose more problems and it’s difficult to see where the Fire’s wins will come from, especially with reports suggesting Shaun Maloney may have played his last game for the club as a transfer to Hull looks likely.
The Red Bulls are a side enjoying completely contrasting fortunes as they can do no wrong right now. A run of six unbeaten with five wins has catapulted them back into Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield contention.
A 3-0 win over Toronto in their last game only increased confidence and they are now five points behind rivals DC United, who they face on Sunday night, at the top of the East with four games in hand.
Jesse Marsch has his team back on track and a playoff berth looks to be guaranteed, with the Red Bulls now looking to maintain their form as the postseason approaches.
This will be the first meeting between the two this season. They will meet at Red Bull Arena in the return fixture on the final weekend of the regular season on October 25.
Chicago have won the past two meetings between the two and have not lost at home to the Red Bulls since 2005 so at least history is on the home team’s side.
Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop may not be able to call on Shaun Maloney anymore as the Scottish DP is believed to be closing in on a move to Hull City. David Accam is a doubt with an ongoing hamstring problem, while Gilberto may sit out again. Adailton is defintely out through injury.
The Red Bulls will have to play without Damien Perrinelle as the defender is suspended. Chris Duvall is out, while Kemar Lawrence and Ronald Zubar remain doubts. Shaun Wright-Phillips will be pushing for a start but will have to dislogdge Mike Grella from the side.
Chicago Fire’s last five: D/W/L/D/L
New York Red Bulls’ last five: W/W/D/W/W
Key Stat: New York Red Bulls have only ever won once at Chicago Fire in 15 attempts. That came in their first ever away game back in 2005 and they have now gone 14 straight without a win in Chicago.
Key Player: Sacha Kljestan – The Red Bulls midfielder has been excellent all season and he has two goals in New York’s last three road games. He picked up an assist in the 3-0 win over Toronto before this one and should be a real threat.Embed from Getty Images
Chicago Fire 1-2 New York Red Bulls – The Fire will look to rally in their last home game before a gruelling four-game road swing but will prove too weak for the in-form Red Bulls here. New York look unstoppable right now and should face little trouble brushing Chicago aside as they look to win the Eastern Conference.