The New York Red Bulls feel they may have reached a turning point in their last game. Winning at Toyota Park on Sunday night would provide further proof.
New York has never won there in 10 tries but is facing a frustrated Chicago Fire team which hasn't won an MLS home game in nearly three months.
This matchup also features Bradley Wright-Phillips trying to set the Red Bulls' single-season club record for goals. He has seven in the last seven games and leads the league with 18, one shy of Juan Pablo Angel's mark from 2007.
Wright-Phillips also scored Wednesday to help the MLS All-Stars rally to beat Bayern Munich 2-1, four days after capping his club's first comeback win of the season.
The Red Bulls (6-6-10) were down a goal and a man after Matt Miazaga received a red card in first-half stoppage time last Saturday against New England, but Dax McCarty and Wright-Phillips scored in the 2-1 victory.
"That's the mentality we have to have with 11 guys, that mentality hasn't been with us very much this year for whatever reason," McCarty said. "It's frustrating, it makes you question why, because when we play the second half like we did against New England, we know we can be one of the best teams in the league."
The win was just New York's third in 12 matches and moved it into playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
"If we can get another win against Chicago, then this is our season back on track," midfielder Tim Cahill said.
New York is 0-7-3 at Toyota Park since the Fire (3-5-13) started playing there. The Red Bulls' last win in Chicago, where they are 3-13-6 all-time, came at Soldier Field on May 14, 2005.
However, the Fire are 1-8-2 at home, going winless in six league matches there since beating Sporting Kansas City on May 18.
Chicago is 0-1-3 in its last four overall after playing Columbus to a 1-all draw last Saturday. It was the Fire's league-high 13th tie and left coach Frank Yallop sounding resigned to his team, ninth in the East, not making a run at the postseason.
"I'll say that we're not quite ready to get over the hurdle of winning games and dominating play, but it will come," Yallop told the league's official website. "We'll work on stuff and we'll try to build for the future, which is important."
One thing Yallop wants to see is rookie Harrison Shipp continuing to improve.
The 22-year-old forward hasn't scored in six straight matches but had a hat trick in a 5-4 road win over New York on May 10. The Fire erased a one-goal deficit by scoring four times in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
"Even to this day, when we're coming out of the half we always talk about going back to the New York game and how can we start the second half like we did that half," Shipp said. "Just try to carry that into Sunday, hopefully have a better defensive performance."
Chicago gave up three goals to Wright-Phillips that day but has allowed only three in its last four home matches - all draws.
New York is thin defensively with Miazaga and Jamison Olave out due to suspension and now faces reigning league MVP Mike Magee, who ended a four-match goal drought last weekend.
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- New York Red Bulls
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