Published on April 28th, 2017 | by Ryan Voyles0
Hell Hath No Fury Like a McCarty Scorned: Fire vs Red Bulls Preview
After a 3-1 loss at Toronto, Chicago will continue its three-game road trip on Saturday when it faces off against a New York Red Bulls side that has been impressive in recent weeks.
The Toronto match was a bit of a wake-up call for us poor eternal optimists who may have gotten carried away after the team’s seven points in three home matches headed into the trip. But there’s no shame in losing on the road against the defending Eastern Conference champions with arguably the best player in MLS (Sebastian Giovinco) putting on a clinical performance.
The game did highlight some lingering questions that have hovered over this Fire side all season, and it’s unlikely they’ll be getting a reprieve when they head to Red Bull Arena.
The Red Bulls are hot off an impressive 2-0 victory at Columbus and will take the field Saturday at a place they have not lost in 19 straight matches, a stretch going back nearly a year.
But where the Red Bulls may have the talent edge, Chicago bring with them the burning fires of vengeance that Dax McCarty will surely bring against the team that unceremoniously traded him this offseason shortly after he set the club’s record for most appearances.
And with that tease, let’s go into the things to watch segment of the preview!
Dax is Back… WITH A VENGEANCE!
As previously noted, McCarty is set to face the Red Bulls for the first time since the midfielder was traded this offseason to the Fire for $400,000 in allocation money. For five-and-a-half years and 186 total appearances, McCartey was the heart of a Red Bulls side that was consistently in title contention; with McCarty spending more than a year of that time as captain of the squad.
McCarty did not hide his disdain for the move, telling anyone who would listen this year how upset he was about how things went down this offseason, criticizing both the front office and head coach Jesse Marsch for not being more transparent about the possible move.
McCarty has said and done all the right things this week, telling reporters that he will approach the match like any other and will do his best to keep emotions in check as he returns to his longtime home. With all that said, it is tough to imagine that McCarty will not be at least a little extra motivated to put in another excellent performance this year and to make the Red Bulls rue the day they gave away a fan favorite. For the Fire, that extra effort may be necessary as…
Road Woes versus Home Dominance
The Fire will look to win their first road match of the season at a place that has been a house of horror for most visiting sides. As previously mentioned, the Red Bulls do not lose at home. Since losing to Sporting Kansas City on April 9 – of 2016 – the Red Bulls have pulled points in 19 straight regular season home matches. Of those matches, the Red Bulls have won 16.
It’s a Herculian ask of any team to knock off the Red Bulls at home right now, especially for a team that has yet to win on the road this season. The Fire have two losses and one draw in their three road matches, with a total differential of 8-2 for the home sides. It’s hard to know how much stock to put into the road numbers so far, as all three matches were against what appears to be the cream of the crop of the Eastern Conference. Additionally, the 4-0 thrashing at Atlanta was partly the result of Johan Kappelhof being shown an early red card in the match.
But with another road match lined up next weekend against Los Angeles, it would be nice for the Fire to become more road warriors like Mad Max and less like the Griswolds outside of Chicago.
New York Red Bulls 2 – Chicago Fire 1
The return of McCarty brings a certain intensity to this match, but the potentially explosive Red Bulls offense will probably be too much for the Fire to handle. Look for goals from Bradley Wright Phillips and Alex Muyl to propel the Red Bulls over a competitive Fire side.