The Pigeons are winless in four straight games, sitting only three points above their state rivals, the Red Bulls, who come into this match with points in six successive fixtures.
What a difference a few weeks can make, as the Red Bulls have put themselves right back into the conversation for a postseason berth thanks to some outstanding defensive play.
They have clean sheets in three of their last four matches while doing an exceptional job in limiting the amount of dangerous scoring opportunities of their opponents, especially at home, allowing a total of three shots on target combined versus Inter Miami and the Philadelphia Union.
Gerhard Struber has been pleased with the defensive shape of his side in recent matches, as his backline have looked composed while also winning a lot of balls in dangerous areas, allowing them to transition effectively.
It was that transitional play which earned his side a big three points last Saturday, and now making the playoffs for a 12th consecutive campaign does not appear to be as far-fetched an idea as it might have been heading into September.
The Red Bulls are unbeaten in their last five home games versus the Boys in Blue, picking up four points against them on their current unbeaten run.
Given how poor this side have looked through long stretches of this campaign, they cannot have too many complaints about their play of late. However, this team have lacked that killer instinct to finish off their opponents when going ahead, and that has led to some anxious injury-time moments for this team.
Sitting in a comfortable top-four position for such a long time, making the playoffs is now anything but a certainty for Ronny Deila and his New York FC squad.
The Boys in Blue have failed to score in their last three regular-season matches and are barely clinging on to sixth place in the East, only a point above Atlanta United at the moment.
As has been the case for much of this campaign, they have seen plenty of the ball with no less than 59% possession over their previous three games, but their touches inside the final third have let them down.
Being near the top of the standings for such a long time afforded them a little room to drop some points while remaining above the playoff line, but with six games remaining, that cushion is gone and losing is no longer an option.
The following two games could tell us a lot about the character of this team who are up against it now but can get themselves out of their precarious position with wins over the Red Bulls and then Atlanta, the two teams who are just below the playoff line.
The Boys in Blue are winless in their last two road fixtures as they have struggled to contain opposing teams away from home, conceding nine goals in their previous five games.
Patryk Klimala has been on the mark lately, scoring three goals on their current unbeaten run, including his team-leading eighth of the year last Saturday, while goalkeeper Carlos Coronel is third in the league in clean sheets with 10.
Kyle Duncan continues to be a mainstay in the Red Bulls backline, starting now in 22 matches this season, a new career-high for him, and he should be getting some help on defence this weekend as Andres Reyes is eligible to return following his yellow card suspension.
Valentin Castellanos and Maxi Moralez have four and three goals respectively in their careers against the Red Bulls, but the top two attacking threats for the Pigeons have struggled offensively of late, as Castellanos is without a goal since September 22, while Moralez has not found the back of the net since his 20th-minute strike against Dallas in the middle of last month.
Maxime Chanot had a forgettable game in World Cup 2022 qualifying this week, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal put him and his defensive partners under duress early and often, with Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick, and the 2016 European champions beating Luxembourg 5-0.
New York Red Bulls possible starting lineup:
Coronel; Duncan, Edwards, Reyes, Gutman; Yearwood, Davis; Clark, Amaya, Diarra; Klimala
New York City FC possible starting lineup:
Johnson; Tinnerholm, Chanot, Callens, Thorarinsson; Sands, Morales; Medina, Moralez, Heber; Castellanos
We say: New York Red Bulls 1-0 New York City FC
Momentum at this stage of the year is vital, and while the Red Bulls have not looked spectacular, the breaks have been going their way which has not been the case for their rivals from the Bronx who have struggled to score, while conceding too many quality opportunities away from home.
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