THE FIVER: Story-lines to watch ahead of RBNY vs. Chicago

Story-lines to watch ahead of Red Bulls vs. Fire

The New York Red Bulls are coming off a thrilling come-from-behind 2-1 victory at home over the New England Revolution, a win that extends a short unbeaten stretch to three games. Expanding that, the team has gone 3-1-5 since a frustrating 2-1 loss to Portland at Red Bull Arena on May 24. New York will hope to carry on with their recent form, especially with the added momentum of the three MLS All-Stars who all enjoyed success in the big win over reigning European and German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, into Chicago and walk away with a first-ever victory at Toyota Park.

Here are five storylines to follow this weekend:

1. MLS’ best offense?

The Red Bulls have arguably the top offense in Major League Soccer. Only the Portland Timbers have scored more goals this year (36) and two others, like the Red Bulls, have scored 35. Bradley Wright-Phillips is leading the league with 18 goals, four more than Kansas City’s Dom Dwyer and Chivas’ Erick Torres, and Thierry Henry leads the league with 10 assists, two more than six other players. Midfielders Eric Alexander and Lloyd Sam have both assisted on seven goals this campaign, tied for 8th-most in the league. With the return of Roy Miller at left back, Ambroise Oyongo and his three assists in seven starts have moved up the pitch and into more of an attacking role. The Red Bulls know how to score goals and they score often. The team has only been held scoreless twice this year, after eight such instances last season, and not since Toronto in mid-May.

2. Wright-Phillips on the cusp of club record

The English striker has yet to cool off four months into his incredible scoring streak and his club and its’ fans are hoping the end is nowhere in sight. Since a six-game stretch without a goal at the beginning of the season, Wright-Phillips has scored 17 goals over his last 15 matches, including three separate stretches of multiple games in a row with at least one goal and goals in friendlies against Arsenal and Bayern Munich in the MLS All-Star game. Bradley’s historic pace has him tied with Kenny Cooper’s 18-goal campaign in 2012 for second all-time in New York’s record book. The record is just one goal away – Juan Pablo Angel’s 19 goals scored in 2007. There are still 12 league matches to play.

3. Toyota Park hex

The Red Bulls have struggled historically in Chicago since the club entered the league in 1998. Since their introduction, New York is 3-13-6 in the Windy City with all three victories coming before 2006. Since Toyota Park opened up that season, the Red Bulls have failed to earn three points and carry a 0-7-3 record. The last victory in Chicago came at Soldier Field on May 14, 2005, and featured an Eddie Gaven brace and Amado Guevara adding a goal and an assist en route to a 3-0 final. A point would be nothing new for either Chicago or New York and both are desperate for all three points. To keep the foot on the pedal and gain more separation from the teams below New York in the East, they must get their first win at Toyota Park.

4. MVP and ROY

Chicago already boasted a prominent attack featuring last year’s MVP and former Red Bull, Mike Magee, but it is the emergence of Homegrown player and leading Rookie of the Year candidate Harrison Shipp, that has the league paying extra attention. Along with them is Quincy Amarikwa and all three players have six goals apiece thus far this season. Last year was Magee’s first in a Fire uniform after being acquired from the LA Galaxy for Robbie Rogers. Magee finished the season with 21 total goals and four assists en route to his and the Fire’s first MVP award. Shipp’s five assists currently lead Chicago and it was his first career hat trick that downed the Red Bulls in Harrison in early May. Magee has missed six games this season due to injury but has played the full 90 in the last seven league matches. The Chicago native scored his team’s lone goal in the 1-1 draw against Columbus on August 2.

5. What have Chicago done lately?  

The Fire sit in ninth place in the East with a 3-5-13 record and 22 points from 21 games. After getting two wins in mid-May, including a thrilling 5-4 victory at Red Bull Arena, the team has gone just 1-3-7 since with nine goals scored over that span. Despite their league form, the Fire are back in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semi-finals for the second year in a row. Just three days after hosting the Red Bulls, the Fire will travel to Seattle to play the Sounders at Starfire stadium with the winner taking on either FC Dallas or the Philadelphia Union on the road.

Sunday’s match is scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. EST and will be broadcast live on MSG. Following the match, the Red Bulls will enjoy a break in league play with their next opponent being Montreal at Red Bull Arena on August 23. Tickets are on sale now for that match by calling 1.877.727.6223 or logging onto tickets.newyorkredbulls.com.