Red Bulls Look to Get Back on Track Against Houston (Sunday, 2:00 PM, ESPN2)

As the Red Bulls reach the second half of the season with a temporary hold on third place in the Eastern Conference, the club knows it’ll take an event stronger effort over the next 17 matches to not only maintain, but also improve its place in the standings. The first step on that road begins Sunday, when the Red Bulls host the Houston Dynamo for a 2:00 PM kick off at Red Bull Arena.

Debilitating as it was to fall to the Union 3-0 at PPL Park last weekend, the Red Bulls remain in positive spirits as they focused on the few positives to come out of the match.

Midfielder Dax McCarty, who went the full 90 minutes in Sunday’s loss, wasn’t happy about the outcome, but feels the chances created while playing a man down remain encouraging.

“It was tough conditions and it was really hot out, you know Philly’s good at home, so we definitely didn’t make it easy on ourselves, but overall I felt we didn’t play very badly,” McCarty said after Wednesday’s training session. “Certainly they had chances, but we had chances too. I think 3-0 wasn’t really a reflection of how the game went, so there’s definitely positives we can take.”

Goalkeeper Luis Robles, who continued to do his part in goal despite the club’s being down a man, shared a similar sentiment. If anything, he’s still grateful that the slip up came during a time in the season when improvements can still be made.

“I don’t think mentally we were there, ready for that game,” Robles said in a recent Q&A with “It’s no excuse because that was a rivalry game. We should’ve been up for that. But the season is long, thankfully. I think that’s what I said is the positive is that it’s the middle part of the season, and it’s important this next game now that we correct those wrongs and bounce back.”

Sunday marks the first time this season the Red Bulls and Dynamo face off, and the one and only time the two do so at Red Bull Arena. This may actually play into the Red Bulls’ favor a bit as the look to get back on track, as New York will look to maintain its undefeated 3-0-1 home record when facing the Dynamo since the arena’s 2010 inception (and all-time 5-0-3 home record, including Giants Stadium).

The Dynamo will be looking to crack a bit of a slump when they come to RBA this weekend, as the club last registered a win in regular season action back on May 8, a 4-0 win over D.C. United. Since then, Houston has gone winless in six straight, posting a 0-3-3 record, as they hold down fifth place in the East.

Including U.S. Open Cup play, Houston has registered only one goal during the month of June, a 1-1 draw against the Crew on June 1. Since then they’ve been held scoreless in three straight, but that in no way indicates a lack of threats.

On the offensive side of things, forward Will Bruin and midfielder Giles Barnes are leading the way for Houston with four goals each, while midfielders Brad Davis, Warren Creavalle and Andrew Driver have three apiece.

Given the Red Bulls’ performance against the Union, combined with the Dynamo’s poor run as of late, Sunday’s match will present two teams ready to battle it out with the hopes of getting things back on track for the second half of the season.

All fans in attendance for Sunday’s match will receive a free T-shirt, as we go all in for red at Red Bull Arena. Get your tickets now at Red Bulls Ticket Central, or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.