Preview: New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire

Image / MLSSoccer.com

Image / MLSSoccer.com

The New York Red Bulls know what it means to be searching for answers; they hadn’t achieved a proper result until their fifth game of the season.

That makes them intimately aware of just how driven the Chicago Fire will be to secure their first win of the season.

“After the four games, they would say exactly what Philadelphia coach Hackworth said. The results do not reflect the team. That is true. I feel the same way about Chicago,” head coach Mike Petke said. “They are unfortunate with certain things. They have a solid team.

“I think they are a sleeping giant in a way. They are a very dangerous team to play. A team with quality, a team that hasn’t gotten the results it deserves at time. They are a very dangerous team and we are not taking them lightly at all. Quite the contrary.”

If the Fire are searching for positive history heading into this encounter, they have it. New York have never won in Toyota Park. Their last encounter back in October was a dominating one as they put the Red Bulls playoff hopes under precarious grounds with a stunning 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena.

Can they use a bit of history to deliver their first victory of 2013? Or will it be the Red Bulls snapping yet another streak on their road to relevance?

Here is this weeks EoS preview:

PROJECTED LINEUP (4-4-2): Robles; Kimura, Holgersson, Olave, Pearce; Alexander, Juninho, McCarty, Steele; Cahill, Henry

HISTORY: Red Bulls – 12-22-9 All-time against the Fire (never won in Toyota Park 0-6-3)

LAST ENCOUNTER: October 6th, 2012; Fire beat Red Bulls in Harrison 2-0

BATTLE TO WATCH: Lindpere v. McCarty. The former teammates will surely make for an interesting contest in the middle. With his team reeling early this season, Lindpere will be driven to help get them back on track. McCarty will be vital in clogging the midfield where the Estonian will be given free reign to open lanes.

X-FACTOR: Tim Cahill. Last week, it was fellow DP Thierry Henry who was our X-Factor of the match, and he certainly proved to be, coming into the match as a super-sub and delivering New York’s first win of the season. Like Henry, Cahill limped his way into Harrison for that Philadelphia match. Will he be paired up top for the very first time with the Red Bulls captain? Will he play the super-sub role?

OUTCOME:

Last weeks victory against the Union put makeup on the face of what has been an ugly start to the season for New York. The Fire will be looking for a similar quick fix at home against a team they have traditionally owned.

“That’s the most dangerous team to play this early in the season,” head coach Mike Petke noted. “This is a team of quality, Chicago, that I believe you can also compare to us a little bit. We didn’t get the results we wanted the first four games. So they are a very dangerous team with a lot of quality. We haven’t had the best history at Toyota Park.”

Along with the return of Lindpere, Chicago also presents another potential danger to the aging Red Bulls core; speed.

“The quality they have at the flanks with Nyarko and Rolfe with their speed, pace, ability to go one on one, MacDonald up front is a strong presence and I think their direct play from the back makes it almost into a battle,” Petke noted. “They have the quality when the ball settles down to work the ball through.”

In a key part of the season last year, Chicago stole points on the road and dominated New York thanks to an inspired MacDonald. Olave will be a major part in thwarting him this time around.

That being said, the Fire have everything to play for, and despite a 4-1 whipping last week at the hands of Chivas USA, the home team will have history and incentive on their side when they host New York.

PREDICTION

Chicago 2-1 New York

SEASON PREDICTION RECORD: (1-4)