MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Knockout Round: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

Toyota Park – Wednesday, October 25 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 21/10 – Draw 5/2 – NY Red Bulls 23/10

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Preview

The 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs are here. It all kicks off with the Chicago Fire hosting the New York Red Bulls in the first of four midweek Knockout Round games.

Both teams have reason for optimism heading into Wednesday’s game but only one side will remain in the playoffs come the end of play. This is expected to be the tightest of the four Knockout Round games, as the below projections highlight.

Chicago Fire deserve enormous praise for even reaching the postseason, let alone earning home-field advantage. They haven’t played a postseason game since 2012 and so you can expect a special atmosphere at Toyota Park.

Most the focus in the build-up to the game will be on Dax McCarty. The midfielder joined the Fire from the Red Bulls before the start of the campaign and will now be looking to get past his former side for a place in the Conference Semifinals.

Embed from Getty ImagesThey have the 2017 Golden Boot winner in Nemanja Nikolic. The Serbian striker netted 24 goals and played every single regular season game in his debut season. A strong showing in the playoffs would give the Fire a great chance at success.

The worry for the home side is that their form has been anything but solid heading into the playoffs. They’ve posted a 3-2-1 record over their last six and lost 3-0 at Houston on the final day of the regular season. But their strong home form still makes them narrow favourites here.

The New York Red Bulls had been stuck in sixth place for what seemed like an eternity. They didn’t lock down a playoff spot as soon as they’d have hoped. But challenges from rivals faded and they’ve been able to prepare for the postseason for a couple of weeks.

Embed from Getty ImagesJesse Marsch’s men ended the regular season with a 2-1 win at DC United. They have only lost one of their last five and will arrive at Chicago looking to keep it tight and hit them on the break.

These two sides met twice during the regular season. The Red Bulls won 2-1 at Red Bull Arena early on in the season, before they drew 1-1 at Toyota Park in early September.

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Team News

The big question mark heading into Wednesday’s game is the fitness of Bastian Schweinsteiger. He hasn’t started a game in almost two months but is officially listed as ‘questionable’. The Fire will definitely be without Jorge Bava, John Goossens, Daniel Johnson, Christian Dean and Michael De Leeuw.

The Red Bulls have four players ruled out for Wednesday’s game. Gideon Baah, Mike Grella, Connor Lade and Aurelien Collin are all sidelined through injury.

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: L/W/D/W/L

New York Red Bulls’ last five: D/L/W/D/W

Key Stat: Chicago only lost two of their 17 home games during the regular season. They outscored their opponents 44-14 in that time.

Key Player: Dax McCarty – The combative midfielder will be the centre of attention on Wednesday night. His job will be to disrupt his former teammate Sacha Kljestan from controlling the game. If he succeeds, it’s more than likely that Chicago will advance.

Embed from Getty ImagesChicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-2* (AET) New York Red Bulls – This should be the closest of all four Knockout Round games. The Fire are a force at home and will be relishing the prospect of a playoff game for the first time in five years. But the Red Bulls are experienced at this level and know how to get the job done. This looks poised to go beyond 90 minutes but we see the Red Bulls as the more likely to advance, with this one looking like it could go all the to penalties.

Advertisements

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

Competition: Major League Soccer Regular Season – Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls 

Venue: Toyota Park – Sunday, October 25 – 19:00 ET (23:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 23/10 – Draw 14/5 – New York Red Bulls 1/1

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host New York Red Bulls on Sunday night in the regular season finale. The Fire will regrettably finish bottom of the Eastern Conference regardless of their result on MLS Decision Day.

Their position in the table is justified down to the fact they are the only team in MLS to have a points-per-game ratio of under 1.00.

With one win in eight, this season has ended on a sour note and they will be hoping to at least give their fans something to cheer about on the final day.

Chicago Fire’s record in MLS: P33 – W8 – D6 – L19

Embed from Getty Images

New York Red Bulls have run away with the Eastern Conference this year after consistent performances throughout this term.

Currently battling FC Dallas for the Supporters’ Shield, a prize they won in 2013, the Red Bulls know that a win would more than likely see them lift the silverware due to a superior goal difference.

And with three wins in their last four, New York will feel extremely confident of securing their second Supporters’ Shield in three years here.

New York Red Bulls’ record in MLS: P33 – P17 – D6 – L10

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Team News

Chicago Fire are without Adailton, Eric Gehrig and Sean Johnson who have suffered season ending injuries. Ty Harden is a doubt with an adductor strain but could feature.

New York Red Bulls are missing three senior players with Chris Duvall, Roy Miller and Anatole Abang all missing through injury.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: L/L/L/W/L

New York Red Bull’s last five: L/W/W/L/W

Key Stat: Chicago have won only once in their last eight matches in MLS.

Key Player: Sacha Kljestan – The USMNT star has been a standout addition to MLS this season and has transformed the Red Bulls’ midfield. Expect him to be key on Sunday.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 0-2 New York Red Bulls – The Red Bulls are hunting the Supporters’ Shield and Chicago are confined to last place in the MLS standings. We can only see one outcome.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

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

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night to kickoff Week 26’s MLS action in a game between two sides at either end of the Eastern Conference.

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.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

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.

Team News

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.

Key Points

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

Score Prediction

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.