- New York Red Bulls may have topped the Eastern Conference last season, but they are struggling to recapture that sort of form this time around. A disappointing run of results in May saw the Metros pick up just four points from a possible 15, as the team fell behind the early play-off contenders in the division. The Bulls now sit fifth, but three wins in their last four, including a 1-0 win over New York City in the US Open Cup, will have boosted the confidence of Jesse Marsch’s men.
- New York City are currently third in MLS and hold a four point lead over their cross-town neighbours, but have failed in their efforts to piece together a decent run. The Pigeons’ form has been consistently inconsistent, with a best winning sequence in all competitions of just two games not really offering the supporters much to shout about. Recent victories over Philadelphia Union and defending champions Seattle Sounders have strengthened Patrick Vieira's side’s chances of making the playoffs, but a rotten record against the Bulls threatens to frustrate the fans once again.
It is just over a year ago since the Red Bulls inflicted a 7-0 hammering on their rivals, a scoreline that remains City’s heaviest ever defeat. Jesse Marsch, who was in charge that day, will be hoping for a repeat performance as the Metros look to sure up their place in the MLS play-offs and silence their noisy neighbours in the process. Granted, this game might not be a complete walkover, but Red Bulls are able to boast an impressive head-to-head record when it comes to facing City. The home side have won six of the two sides’ seven previous meetings, netting 19 times and conceding just five.
City need to start stringing positive results together if they are to challenge for the MLS title. Too often have Patrick Vieira’s men failed to deliver, especially when it comes to the bigger games. The travelling supporters will hope that David Villa, who has been City’s top scorer for the past two seasons, can continue his goalscoring exploits this weekend, but given that his side have never triumphed at the Red Bull Arena, inspiring his teammates to the win could prove a difficult task. Even if the away side are to find the target, they must keep former Plymouth Argyle and Charlton Athletic hitman Bradley Wright-Phillips quiet, something that they have not managed in five of their seven encounters.
Despite the recent dominance of the Red Bulls, this game could be pretty tight with just the odd goal deciding the tie. Wright-Phillips is almost certain to score, meaning that City must find a way through a backline that has proved, at times, impenetrable if they are to salvage a result, but even that might not be enough to halt the Red Bulls’ rampage in this fixture.
- Sports.net’s top tip: New York Red Bulls to win and both teams to score: 10/3
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.