Red Bulls-Fire Preview

The Associated Press

While the New York Red Bulls aren't worried about a second straight slow start, history indicates they will have a tough time ending this one in their next game.

The Red Bulls look to snap an 11-match road winless streak against the Chicago Fire, who could still be without their top player Sunday for a matchup of teams seeking their first victory.

New York (0-1-1) started 0-2-2 last season but went on to win the Supporters' Shield with an MLS regular season-best 17-9-8 record. That experience is a major reason why the Red Bulls won't panic this year.

"I feel like we were in a similar position last year and it worked out all right," goalkeeper Luis Robles told the league's official website.

"It's a 34-game season and I would much rather we sort out some of our insufficiencies right now, and I think that was the theme last year."

After opening with a 4-1 loss at Vancouver, the Red Bulls took a step in the positive direction with last Saturday's 1-1 home draw versus Colorado. However, New York left the pitch frustrated after the Rapids' Vicente Sanchez scored the equalizer in the 72nd minute on a penalty kick resulting from a questionable call.

Replacement referees worked that game, so the Red Bulls will likely be happy the regular officials are back this weekend after the lockout recently ended.

"We wanted to start better, but we obviously, as you saw, didn't," said Thierry Henry, who scored on a header last Saturday in his season debut. "It's going to be a tough game against Chicago."

Henry has three goals in his last five matches versus Chicago (0-1-1), including one in a 5-2 home victory in the regular-season finale that kept the Fire out of the playoffs.

The Red Bulls, however, are 3-15-6 all-time at Chicago and have been outscored 22-10 during an 0-4-7 skid there which dates to a 3-0 victory May 14, 2005, when the Fire still played at Soldier Field.

Mike Magee has three goals in his last four matches versus New York, including one of his team-leading 15 in 22 games for the Fire in 2013.

Magee is bothered by a hamstring injury, and it's uncertain when the reigning MLS MVP will make his 2014 debut.

"I don't want to risk him and have him out for too long," first-year coach Frank Yallop said. "Mike just wants to help the team, and as coach I'm there to protect him, so I'm going to make the decision on whether he's ready to go for the weekend. I do not want to put any player, let alone Mike, at risk of re-injuring and going backwards."

After its comeback fell short in a 3-2 loss at Chivas USA to open the season, Chicago couldn't hold an early lead in a 1-1 draw at Portland last Sunday. Jeff Larentowicz scored on a penalty kick in the 19th minute for the Fire, who didn't score until the fourth match last season while starting 0-3-1.

Chicago went 5-0-2 in its final seven home games in MLS play last season.

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