Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls
2017 MLS Playoff Match Preview
Toyota Park – Chicago, Ill.
Wednesday, October 25 – 8:30 pm ET
WATCH: FS1, UniMas in the US | TSN3/5, TVA Sports in Canada
Less than a year after he was traded to the Chicago Fire, former New York Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty will take on his former team in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs at Toyota Park on Wednesday night. A win and the Fire would advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against New York City FC; a Red Bulls victory would see them advance to take on Supporters' Shield winners Toronto FC.
The Fire, back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012, finished as the third seed in the Eastern Conference behind record-setting TFC and NYCFC. The Red Bulls have long clinched the sixth and final spot in the Eastern Conference after their competition faded over the past few weeks of the regular season.
The Fire have had a tumultuous last month or so, posting a 3-2-1 record since mid-September. Seemingly every time they've showed signs of their early-season success, like they did in last week's come-from-behind 3-2 win against Philadelphia, they get run off the field like they did in Sunday's 3-0 loss at Houston. Despite their fluctuating form, the Fire sport the league's Golden Boot winner, Nemanja Nikolic, who scored 24 goals in his inaugural MLS season. Now marks a race against time for Fire talisman Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has not started since Sept. 2, to return the lineup in order for Chicago to be near full strength.
New York, on the other hand, returns to the playoffs for the eighth straight year. Last season's Eastern Conference champions have had tepid results of their own before Sunday's 2-1 win against D.C. United in the last-ever game at RFK Stadium. New York have only won three times since mid-August, but they're relatively healthy and looking to improve on last year's Eastern Conference Semifinal appearance.
- Baer: Early Knockout Round preview
- Dax: No extra pressure vs. former Red Bulls teammates
- Schweinsteiger's status vs. Red Bulls still TBD
- Dyer: McCarty trade set tone for RBNY's, Chicago's aspirations
- Ditch the "lazy narrative," Dax McCarty says ahead of Fire-RBNY
- Red Bulls relishing rare underdog status vs. Fire
- After spoiling RFK party, New York believe they can upset Chicago
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: M - John Goossens (right ankle surgery), GK - Jorge Bava (left elbow surgery), M - Daniel Johnson (left MCL injury), D - Christian Dean (fifth metatarsal fracture), F - Michael de Leeuw (ruptured left ACL); QUESTIONABLE: M - Bastian Schweinsteiger (right thigh injury)
Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, left to right)
GK: Matt Lampson – Brandon Vincent, Joao Meira, Johan Kappelhoff, Matt Polster – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dax McCarty – David Accam, Luis Solignac, Arturo Alvarez – Nemanja Nikolic
Notes: The Fire have only beaten the Red Bulls once in seven regular season games since the start of 2015 (4L-2D). None of the seven games has been decided by more than a one goal margin. Chicago has only lost twice in 17 home games this year(12W-3D). The Fire have outscored the opposition 41-14 at home this year. In 2,098 minutes with Bastian Schweinsteiger on the pitch this year, Chicago averaged 1.8 goals and 1.2 goals conceded per 90 minutes. In 1,144 minutes without Schweinsteiger, those numbers fall to 1.6 goals for and 1.4 goals against.
New York Red Bulls
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Gideon Baah (broken leg - out for season), M Mike Grella (knee surgery - out for season), D Aurelien Collin (plantar fasciitis); D Connor Lade (undisclosed injury)
Projected Starting XI
(3-3-3-1, right to left)
GK: Luis Robles – Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, Michael Amir Murillo – Tyler Adams, Felipe, Kemar Lawrence – Sean Davis, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer – Bradley Wright-Phillips
Notes: The Red Bulls won only one of their last seven regular season road games (4L-2D) and conceded an average of 2.3 goals per game along the way. The Red Bulls had 55.7% of the ball against Chicago on September 9, 2017, the last time these two teams met in Chicago in a league game. The Red Bulls averaged 54.1% possession in road games this year, the second-best average amongst any team in away league games.
- Overall: Fire 26 wins (89 goals) … Red Bulls 17 wins (71 goals) … Ties 12
- At Chicago: Fire 15 wins (49 goals) … Red Bulls 4 wins (28 goals) … Ties 9
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, Ian Anderson
Fourth Official: Silviu Petrescu
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic