The New York Red Bulls and visiting Colorado Rapids will both return to MLS action for the first time in more than a week when they meet Tuesday night in Harrison, N.J.
The Red Bulls (10-6-6, 36 points) have been busy despite the lack of league matches. On Wednesday night, they were routed 5-1 at Orlando City in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal. Then on Saturday, they hosted Spanish giants FC Barcelona in a 2-0 friendly defeat.
Red Bulls manager Gerhard Struber believes the latter performance against the 26-time La Liga and five-time UEFA Champions League winners was a case of a moral victory for a team that currently sits tied for third in the Eastern Conference.
"I think it was a game where we can grow, and especially with the situation against Orlando, now we are back," Struber said postgame. "And everyone knows the painful feeling after the Orlando game. And I think today, I think the boys was ready with very good confidence. I think we played, especially in the first half, in many directions with our particular basics in a successful way."
The Red Bulls' last MLS outing was a 4-3 victory at Austin in which four different Red Bulls scored for the first time all season.
Teenager Serge Ngoma scored his second career MLS goal in his first start, and he could see more action as Struber still looks for better production from his center forwards.
The Rapids (6-9-6, 24 points) have been idle since a 2-1 loss at Seattle on July 23, perhaps providing a necessary chance to regroup after a disappointing stretch.
The defending Western Conference regular-season champions enter Tuesday in 12th place and seven points out of the playoff picture.
Striker Gyasi Zardes has only three goals in 13 appearances since arriving in a trade from Columbus, while former Rapids forward Andre Shinyashiki has been on a scoring run since a move to Charlotte.
How to get back on track after only one win in their last eight (1-4-3)? Winger Jonathan Lewis says it's about attitude against the Red Bulls' vaunted high press.
"They make the game uncomfortable whenever you're playing against them," Lewis said. "We've just got to man up and be willing to get on the ball with a guy on our back."
--Field Level Media