Third place in their respective conferences means different things for the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City heading into Saturday’s game at Red Bull Arena.
New York (10-5-2, 32 points) is eight points behind the Atlanta United though it has three games in hand. It also is five points back of NYCFC and two ahead of fourth-place Columbus.
Sporting KC (9-4-6, 33 points) is closer to first in the Western Conference as it is two points behind FC Dallas for first and one behind Los Angeles FC while Real Salt Lake is four points out of third.
“I think we are doing good,” Sporting forward Diego Rubio told reporters. “Of course, we have our winning mentality and we want to be in first place for sure and I think we know we can be there.”
However, things are going differently for both teams of late.
Despite managing four shots on goal in Sunday’s 1-0 loss at Yankee Stadium to NYCFC, the Red Bulls are 7-2-2 since splitting their first six games.
They also are virtually unbeatable at home. Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored eight of his 11 goals at home where the Red Bulls are 6-1-1 and are outscoring foes 20-4.
“We’ll be prepared to battle with them, and on our home field we always like our chances,” new coach Chris Armas told reporters. “We push games, we’re aggressive, and we’re going to go for it at home. Big three points is in our plans.”
The Red Bulls will play their first home game under Armas, who took over last week when Jesse Marsch left to become an assistant with Red Bull Leipzig.
“We know that we’re expecting a really good team coming to Red Bull Arena,” New York midfielder Daniel Royer told the team’s official website. “Kansas City is a really good team, even though right now they are struggling a little bit. Put the game on our terms and I think then we have a good chance.”
Kansas City is winless in its last three (0-2-1) and 2-2-4 in its last eight games. Sporting is coming off a 2-2 tie with Toronto when it blew a one-goal lead in the 69th minute.
“I think we got back on the right track in the way that we started the game, in the way that we played for 90 minutes,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “That was a good thing.”
Sporting’s lineup should get some assistance as Roger Espinoza and Daniel Salloi return from one-game suspensions for getting ejected against FC Dallas on July 4. Salloi is tied with Johnny Russell for the team lead in six goals while Espinoza leads the team with eight assists.
Sporting KC is 3-1-1 in its last five visits to Red Bull Arena and the home team is 2-5-4 in the last 11 meetings between the teams since 2012.
—Field Level Media