The hosts have lost back-to-back matches to start their campaign, while Raphael Wicky's Fire are yet to win, as they seek to reach the playoffs this time around.
Though New York Red Bulls have been among the most successful teams of the past decade by forging an identity as a defensively reliable team, they have started their latest MLS journey by conceding five goals in two games - resulting in no points so far.
At Dignity Health Sports Park last week, Gerhard Struber's side went down to a 3-2 defeat to the LA Galaxy, coming away from Carson empty-handed in one of the most entertaining matches of the season so far. A Javier Hernandez hat-trick proved the difference between the two clubs, as the former Real Madrid forward wrapped up the match ball on the hour mark.
The Red Bulls had previously squandered an early second-half lead to lose 2-1 against Sporting Kansas City, so after consecutive losses to start the season, Struber's intent is on quickly picking up points.
Their Austrian coach's quest to kickstart proceedings continues on Saturday afternoon against Chicago Fire - the first of back-to-back games at Red Bull Arena - as he sets out to lift the New Jersey-based outfit above their recent MLS mediocrity.
Having won the Supporters' Shields three times since 2013, in the past two seasons the Red Bulls have finished sixth in the Eastern Conference on each occasion and twice exited the playoffs in the opening round.
This weekend, they will face a team whose first venture on the road in the 2021 season ended in a dispiriting 3-1 loss to Atlanta United last Saturday night.
Gabriel Heinze's hosts took all three points at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which was at half-capacity for its long-awaited return of fans, as Chicago Fire struggled to come back from Ezequiel Barco's stunning opener in the 23rd minute.
After missing out on the playoffs by a single point last year, the Fire had started the current campaign with a bang: racing into a two-goal lead in the first 11 minutes of their season-opener versus New England Revolution. However, that lead quickly evaporated and they had to settle for a frustrating draw.
Last season's one-off 'MLS is Back' tournament aside, the Fire last won on the road back in 2019 - with a 5-2 season-ending victory against Orlando City also being memorable as Germany legend Bastian Schweinsteiger's final professional appearance.
Coach Raphael Wicky will therefore be determined to end such a drought on Saturday, with a much-needed first win of the year.
New York Red Bulls signed in-demand midfielder Frankie Amaya from FC Cincinnati earlier this month, and the 2019 first overall pick will be in contention for a start this time out, after coming on as a substitute versus LA Galaxy.
However, defender Jason Pendant is expected to remain out with a shoulder injury for the home side, while Tom Edwards and new signing from Celtic, Patryk Klimala, are still quarantining ahead of the game.
For the visitors, Chicago winger Stanislav Ivanov underwent knee surgery at the end of March and is not expected to return until late summer, while Fabian Herbers has a torn collateral ligament and remains unavailable.
New York Red Bulls possible starting lineup:
Carlos; Duncan, Nealis, Long, Tarek, Gutman; Davis, Clark, Amaya; White, Fabio
Chicago Fire possible starting lineup:
Shuttleworth; Sekulic, Kappelhof, Calvo, Bornstein; Stojanovic, Gimenez; Frankowski, Medran, Nnamdi; Beric
We say: New York Red Bulls 2-1 Chicago Fire
The Red Bulls emerged triumphant on the last occasion Chicago were able to visit their New Jersey headquarters in 2019 and can repeat the trick this time around.
As the Fire have not always excelled away from Mercedes-Benz Arena, their so-far muted start to the 2021 campaign may continue, as the road towards the playoffs looks like a long and bumpy one for Raphael Wicky's team.
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