The New York Red Bulls could win their first-ever major trophy with victory over the Chicago Fire.
Because they have no cups.
It's an old joke, sure, but opposing fans have long taunted the New York Red Bulls over their lack of trophies. For 18 seasons, what should be one of the league's flagship franchises has failed to win a single major competition. They've brought in big name players, expensive coaches, and built one of the finest stadiums in American soccer, but a first piece of major silverware has remained elusive, so much that it's almost become a part of the club identity, the affluent futility in opposition to dirt poor arch rival D.C.'s penchant for stumbling into silverware.
That could change with a win against Chicago.
With a victory, the New York Red Bulls (16-9-8) would have 59 points. It would set a franchise record. It would earn them a bye in the first round of the playoffs. It would earn them - after 18 years of Metros and energy drinks, 18 years of Eddie Rodriguez and Steve Shak and Lotthar Mattheus and Rafa Marquez and Hans Backe - the Supporters' Shield.
Already safely ensconced in the playoffs, a New York loss or draw hands the trophy to Sporting Kansas City, which came back to beat the Philadelphia Union in injury time.
Chicago won't roll over for the sake of history, however. The Fire are chasing a playoff spot after an up and down year. A win guarantees them that berth, while anything else opens them up to being overtaken by New England and Houston.
Leading the Fire brigade is former New York favorite Mike Magee. At one time the youngest player and goalscorer in New York history, he spent six seasons in north Jersey before being traded to LA. The 2013 campaign has been his annus mirabilis, and he's in MVP-caliber form with 20 goals and 4 assists.
The Red Bulls will be without the services of Ian Christianson (Toe Injury) and Heath Pearce (Hip Surgery), while David Carney (R calf strain) and Roy Miller (L Achilles Injury) are unlikely to take part.
Chicago is missing just Brendan King (L Hamstring Strain) and Michael Videira (Concussion Symptoms).`