Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire
Venue: Red Bull Arena – Wednesday, May 18 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)
Match Odds: NY Red Bulls 8/15 – Draw 16/5 – Chicago 5/1
The Red Bulls need to start climbing the table. They are eighth in the East heading into this game but are only six points off the top of the conference at this stage.
They must make the most of this double gameweek, with a tricky game away at fierce rivals New York City coming up on Saturday following Wednesday’s clash with the Fire.
Jesse Marsch watched his side fall 2-0 at DC last time out, ending a three-game unbeaten run and he will not accept anything less than three points from his players here in what looks like a winnable fixture.
The Fire, however, will be out to seal three points for themselves. They are in poor form, having lost back-to-back games away from home coming into this and are now winless in five.
Head coach Veljko Paunovic knows his side need to start scoring more regularly if they are to have any chance of climbing off the foot of the East. They have netted just five in their last eight games since scoring three in the opening day defeat to NYCFC.
A 2-0 loss at New England last week saw Chicago fail to keep a clean sheet for the fourth consecutive game and keeping out the Red Bulls at home seems an unlikely feat.
This will be the first of two meetings between the sides this season. They met three times late last season, with the Red Bulls winning both of the most recent meetings after Chicago won at Toyota Park in August.
The Red Bulls will be without Damien Perrinelle once again, although he is the only certain absentee as backup goalkeeper Ryan Meara is close to returning from a long-term injury. Gonzalo Veron is back to full fitness and could start here.
Chicago Fire will be without John Goossens for the trip to Red Bull Arena, while Collin Fernandez is also unlikely to feature as he is struggling with an ankle strain. Gilberto will be back in contention to start up top, with Kennedy Igboananike likely to start on the wing.
New York Red Bulls’ last five: L/W/W/D/L
Chicago Fire’s last five: D/L/D/L/L
Key Stat: Goals, goals, goals – There have been 36 goals in the last eight meeting between these two sides – an average of 4.5 per game.
Key Player: Sacha Kljestan – The Red Bulls midfielder has probably been the team’s best player so far this term. He so often proves influential when it matters most and will look to break down a Chicago defence struggling to keep sides out at the moment.
New York Red Bulls 3-1 Chicago Fire – This should be another high-scoring game between two sides that are desperate for three points as they look to climb the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls are a strong outfit at home and will prove tough to beat here, while Chicago have yet to win away this season. A home victory looks likely, though both will expect to find the net.