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NYCFC look to remain hot against Fire


New York City FC will look to continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings on Saturday when they visit a Chicago Fire side trying to recover from a surprising defeat.

After a plodding start, NYCFC (4-1-6, 18 points) has won four of its past five games and is unbeaten in seven to move up to sixth place in the East, the second-to-last spot above the playoff line.

They’ve surged primarily while on the road, winning three times away from Yankee Stadium. And they’ve conceded only one goal in five games while shutting down the likes of D.C. United’s Wayne Rooney and the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The latter let his frustrations boil over in a scuffle with New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson that resulted in a two-match suspension.

The Cityzens have played at least one fewer match than everyone else in the East, providing an opportunity to climb even higher in the standings over the next month. That starts with a trip to face another former Manchester United star, the Fire’s Bastian Schweinsteiger.

“It’s an important game,” NYCFC defender Ronald Matarrita said through an interpreter. “We know Chicago is an excellent team that prepares well for games. Regardless, I think we have the team necessary to be able to get the three points on the road again.”

Chicago (4-5-4, 16 points) is coming off a 4-1 defeat at the resurgent San Jose Earthquakes, in which Chris Wondolowski scored all four goals to become the MLS’ all-time goal-scoring leader.

Aleksandar Katai scored a late consolation goal for the Fire, who also missed two clear scoring opportunities, according to Opta, while failing to extend a three-match unbeaten run. They’ll try to recover at home, where they’re 4-1-2.

“It’s a big one, a conference matchup,” said Fire striker CJ Sapong ofNYCFC. “We want to take our opportunities when we get them. We also have to be in a position to respond in the best way no matter what happens.”

After failing to stop a forward with one of the longest reels of game film in MLS, the Fire will try to halt a striker with one of the shortest.NYCFC’s Heber only made his MLS debut at the beginning of April, but has three goals and two assists in his last five matches.

REUTERS/Field Level Media

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