Luis Robles and the Red Bulls hope to catch the Chicago Fire. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — With regular-season games dwindling down to a precious few, time is running out on the Red Bulls moving up the Eastern Conference ladder.
They can do themselves a big favor Saturday by upending the Chicago Fire.
The encounter potentially is a six-point swing.
The third-place Red Bulls (12-10-4, 40 points) trail their Windy City (13-9-5, 44) foes, who are in third place by four points as they have but eight games remaining to make up ground. A win also would solidify their playoff position as one of the top six teams in the east.
Chicago might be ripe for the picking. After an extremely strong start to the team, the Fire has come back down to earth, going 1-4 in its last five matches.
Still, the Red Bulls have great respect for the Fire.
“We know that they have very good players and some difference makers that can cause us fits,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “Nonetheless I think it is going to be about how well we come into the game mentally, and if we can execute our tactics, because I am at a point right now where I feel confident in our ability to get results, but a lot of that confidence comes from what our mentality is like going into that game.”
A good start would be needed by the Red Bulls.
“Someone needs to set the tone with the first tackle, the first 50-50 ball, push the game up in their end,” captain Sacha Kljestan told reporters at the Red Bulls Training Facility this week. “Put the game on our terms right from the beginning.”
Added head coach Jesse Marsch: “Whatever they throw at us, we’ll be ready.”