Since the New York Red Bulls were downed by the Chicago Fire at the end of April, the two teams have gone in completely different directions.
The Red Bulls have gone 11-3-2 since that game, while the Fire went 4-10-4. Despite that, and Chicago's six-match MLS losing streak, Head Coach Chris Armas knows that Saturday's matchup will be a difficult one.
"The most important thing is going to be if can we put ourselves in a spot to get three points with a good performance on the road," Armas said.
Chicago also dropped out of the U.S. Open Cup, falling 3-0 to the Philadelphia Union in the semifinal game on Wednesday night.
“The reality is they are good," Armas said. "They’re good and they pose teams trouble every single time. They haven’t gotten all the results they’ve wanted, but they’re in every game to a certain point. They’ve scored lots of goals in the second half, they’ve given up some in the second half too."
Captain Luis Robles knows that despite Chicago's recent record, securing three points on the road is key, especially as the season vaults toward the finish line.
"When you look at the second half of the season, any one of these games, you know that you need to get points, especially against an Eastern Conference team," Robles said. "When you look at Chicago, it doesn’t necessarily heighten it just because it's Chicago, what makes it important is because we’re in the second half of the season, we’re in the Supporters' Shield race, and because we do want to get in the first two spots. You’re looking at every opportunity, regardless if it's home or away, to get as many points as possible, and so for us when we look at this game that’s what we’re thinking: three points."
The loss to the Fire is still a sticking point in their season so far for the Red Bulls.
"A team in our conference, there’s a history between these two clubs of tight games, playoff games, and to be honest what we even talk about, they’re 1-0 against this year," Armas said. "In our building they beat us, so I think that statistic when you talk to the guys and they remember how that day felt, they gave us trouble all day long. That makes it easy for me to talk to the team and prepare us for what’s ahead. We respect Chicago a lot and we know that we’ll have a tough time on the day getting a point or three.”
The Fire match is the beginning of a three-game road trip that sees the Red Bulls pay visits to Chicago, Vancouver and the short trip to Yankee Stadium before seeing Red Bull Arena again. No matter where they're playing, though, the goal is three points for Tyler Adams and the Red Bulls.
"It doesn’t change anything for us, it’s just about getting three points," Adams said. "We don’t want to go there and tie, we’re not worried about unbeaten streaks, we just want to go there and get three points."