Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Red Bull New York and Columbus Crew SC will square off in an intriguing battle at Crew Stadium on Saturday.
The two sides figure to be contenders for top spot in the Eastern Conference, and though they have played only two games, both have shown glimpses as to why they are regarded so highly.
Despite losing Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and fan-favorite head coach Mike Petke, the Red Bulls have put forth two impressive outings under new boss Jesse Marsch en route to collecting four points.
New York was able to grind out a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City to open the season before dominating D.C. United in a 2-0 home victory on Sunday.
Bradley Wright-Phillips opened his scoring account for the season while Lloyd Sam bagged his second in as many games to secure the victory, making it clear who the Red Bulls will lean on in the absence of such high-profile players as Henry and Cahill.
"It's only two games in and it's still early, but I'm still trying to be me but add more goals to my game," Sam told a correspondent from New York's official website. "I had an awareness toward defense with the last coach. Now it's more about my goals mainly, and a bit defensive, too, but if you're scoring goals it's always a good thing for me and the team. They want me to be more dangerous and go toward the goal."
The Red Bulls seem to be taking Marsch's new system in stride, particularly Sam, who is delighted to be concentrating on attacking the opposition's net in search of more goals.
"I feel like it's working, as a team and with myself," Sam continued, analyzing Marsch's new system. "Last year I may not have been in that position (to score). That's the difference."
Columbus, meanwhile, is quite aware of the threat Wright-Phillips and Sam pose, and the Crew will be out to neutralize the duo.
"I think they miss Henry, any team would," Columbus captain Michael Parkhurst told the club's official website. "I still think Wright-Phillips is one of the best strikers in the league. He's going to be a handful for us. Sacha (Kljestan) comes in and adds some creativity in the midfield, I think he's a very good player. Sam has started the season very strong, so he's a guy we're going to keep an eye out.
"They're a dangerous team, but I think the onus is on us - especially on our home field - to push the tempo and to control the game."
The Crew suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss at the Houston Dynamo to open the season, but they rebounded to the tune of a 2-0 defeat of Toronto FC on home soil last time out.