RED BULL NEW YORK (10-9-3) vs. CHICAGO (7-9-5)
Saturday, 7:30 P.M. ET, Direct Kick
In his five MLS matches, Cuauhtemoc Blanco has scored two goals and assisted on four others. He had one of each last week as the Fire beat Kansas City, 2-0, to push closer to the playoff tier.
Chicago can move into the top eight, at least temporarily, by winning. With 26 points, it trails Colorado and Columbus by a point.
The Fire can also avenge a terrible start the last time it played RBNY, a 3-0 loss in May. Jozy Altidore scored the earliest goal in team history, 55 seconds, and by scoring again in the third minute New York tied the MLS record for the fastest two goals at the start of a game.
Consecutive Red Bull losses to Eastern Conference rivals New England and D.C. United have been marred by egregious errors, yet the defensive third has hardly been a bastion of resistance this season. Artificial turf hasn't been a problem for Blanco; the Fire thrashed Toronto, 3-0, and beat RSL, 2-0, on the fake stuff since he came aboard.
This is a much tougher test but hardly beyond the Fire's capabilities. The Red Bulls need not only a staunch defensive effort, they need their impact players to make big plays. And that means more than Altidore and Juan Pablo Angel.