Red Bull New York will welcome Toronto FC to Red Bull Arena on Saturday as the home side sets its sight a strong finish to the season.
New York enters the weekend level on 45 points with the Montreal Impact and Sporting Kansas City for first place in the Eastern Conference, and a 4-1 road victory over the Houston Dynamo in its last outing has the club targeting a first-ever Supporters' Shield.
"It's probably one of the better 90-minute performances on the road we've put in," Jonny Steele told MLSsoccer.com this week. "People doubted us on the road, but we had to build on last week, build on this week and we've got six games left. So we've got to keep going and push for the Supporters' Shield."
The match was an indication of what the Red Bulls, who have not produced many solid road performances this term, can accomplish when they are adequately prepared.
"Here we had the run of play a lot of the game, but certainly they did, too," Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said after the match. "We just wanted to get our defensive shape right: Start our two forwards at the top of the circle and 35 yards back is our back-four and in between that is crunching them when they come in there.
"Whereas in the past, perhaps, after the first 5-6 minutes we get away from that, guys stuck with it. We stayed with it and they did the right things and we were able to one-two punch them on a bit of a counter or just effective finishing."
The Red Bulls could not have asked for a better game to extend its two-game winning streak as they have dominated Toronto in recent meetings at RBA. New York ran out to a 4-1 defeat of TFC in its lone home match against the Canadian side in 2012 and even claimed a resounding 5-0 victory in their only meeting at RBA in 2011.
Making matters worse for Toronto, striker Robert Earnshaw came off worse for the wear in a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire on Wednesday despite scoring the club's lone goal of the affair.
"He felt his hamstring tweak a bit, but I don't think it is anything major," TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said after the match. "It was one of those little tweaks where if you keep going you'll probably tear it. It was smart to come off. He got his goal and you can see where he kind of planted his foot, he kind of felt a strain."
Playing its cards close to the chest, Toronto has not revealed whether Earnshaw will play a part in Saturday's clash, but the Reds will certainly need him if they want to have even a glimmer of hope of taking points off of a motivated Red Bulls side.