The New York Red Bulls and New York City FC are heading in opposite directions as they fight for a playoff spot in the crowded Eastern Conference.
The Red Bulls attempt to extend their season-high unbeaten streak to seven games Sunday afternoon in Harrison, N.J., when they host NYCFC, who enter the latest installment of the “Hudson River Derby” on a four-game winless skid.
Virtually all of the MLS plays Saturday, meaning these teams will know where they stand heading into their third meeting this season.
NYRB (10-11-7, 37 points) entered the weekend three points behind CF Montreal, who are tied in points with NYCFC and D.C. United. The Red Bulls also are two points back of eighth-place Atlanta.
The Red Bulls will be taking the pitch 24 hours after Montreal hosts Philadelphia and about 18 hours after Atlanta visits Toronto FC at the same time as D.C.’s match with visiting Nashville SC.
The Red Bulls are in position to scoreboard watch due to being 4-0-2 in their past six matches since a 2-1 loss at Columbus on Sept. 14. They also are 5-2-3 in their past 10 after enduring a 1-5-4 skid that put their 12th straight postseason appearance in doubt.
“We have a good plan, we are ready,” Red Bulls coach Gerhard Struber said. “We can win this game with all of our power, but we have big respect for a massive opponent.”
The Red Bulls own three 1-0 wins in the surge, including last Saturday night when Patryk Klimala scored in the 25th minute to beat Inter Miami. Klimala also scored the game-tying goal in the 102nd minute in a 1-1 draw against NYCFC on Sept. 22.
New York City FC (11-10-7, 40 points) return to action for the first time since a 0-0 draw with Nashville on Oct. 3 in Harrison when it did not get a shot on goal until the 76th minute and missed numerous opportunities. It marked the third straight game the team did not score, a drought that dates back to when Valentin Castellanos tallied in the 31st minute against the Red Bulls on Sept. 22.
NYCFC enter the final meeting with the Red Bulls on a 3-5-5 slide in its past 13 since scoring 10 times in a three-game winning streak from July 21-30. During this slide, NYCFC have scored one goal or fewer six times, but despite the slide they sit two points behind fourth-place Orlando and five behind Philadelphia.
“It’s a big challenge for us, we need to get a victory against them,” NYCFC coach Ronny Deila said. I know we can do it; it means a lot. When you look at the standings, every point is important. Motivation is not any problem for us.”
–Field Level Media