MLS-leading Red Bulls turn focus to porous Fire

ByField Level Media ESPN logo
Friday, April 12, 2024

The New York Red Bulls will try to extend their reign atop the MLS standings when they host the Chicago Fire on Saturday in Harrison, N.J.

The Red Bulls (4-1-2, 14 points) lead the league in points despite a road-heavy early schedule. New York is 2-1-2 in away matches, including last Saturday's 2-1 victory at FC Cincinnati.

Yuya Kubo's third-minute goal gave Cincinnati a very quick advantage, but Frankie Amaya equalized 16 minutes later. Dante Vanzeir then completed New York's comeback with the winning strike in the 60th minute.

Since FC Cincinnati eliminated the Red Bulls from last season's MLS Cup playoffs, last weekend's win might have carried a bit of extra emphasis for New York. Head coach Sandro Schwarz now wants his team to play with the same quality against the Fire, and to "not to lose the focus, to have the energy, the atmosphere and the confidence to get the ball in every situation."

Chicago (2-3-2, 8 points) is also coming off a win, a 2-1 home result over the Houston Dynamo last Saturday. It was perhaps the best performance of what has been an inconsistent season for the Fire to date.

"We know we are not perfect now but we keep working hard and this is the most important thing, to stay humble," team captain Xherdan Shaqiri said. "Work hard every day and try to build on these three points and try to win as much as possible."

Brian Gutierrez wasn't in the starting 11 against Houston, but came off to the bench to score the go-ahead goal in the 78th minute. Gutierrez leads the Fire with three goals this season.

Fire defender Carlos Teran is available after serving a one-match red card suspension. Andrew Gutman will miss his seventh consecutive match due to a leg injury.

Both the Fire and Red Bulls have scored 11 goals over seven matches, but New York has an edge on defense. Chicago's 14 goals allowed is the most of any Eastern Conference team.

The Red Bulls are 2-0-0 at home, and the Fire are 0-2-2 on the road.

--Field Level Media