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The Fully Charged New York Red Bulls are Headed to Columbus for a Date with Crew SC

Are Crew SC catching the Red Bulls at the worst time?

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Seven games into the Major League Soccer season and the New York Red Bulls were undefeated with a 3-0-4 record. At the end of May, New York began a slide of five straight games without a win and four losses over that stretch.

Since that point, the Red Bulls have won two games in a row and the team is finding its form.

"What I'd expect is, they got their confidence back," Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter said this week.

"I think [Sunday] they also showed character to get back into the game after going down early and coming back and playing a great second half."

Berhalter referenced New York's come-from-behind road win over New York City FC last weekend.

City had played well leading into the match, unbeaten in three MLS games, and had the home field advantage. New York took an early lead over the Red Bulls, which could have been the end of things, but Jesse Marsch's men fought back and earned a rivalry victory.

Four days before that win, New York ended its winless slide with a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake at Red Bull Arena. Mike Grella's early strike helped to end a month-long tailspin for the Red Bulls after the fast start.

It's not just been the change in results for New York, but how the team is playing.

Marsch recently moved last year's league-leading goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips to the left wing and started forward Anatole Abang after he scored two goals in two games as a substitute.

With the athletic Wright-Phillips playing on one wing and Grella on the other, the Red Bulls have been able to control the flanks, getting goals from out wide in each of the recent victories. This translated into a better flow to the offense, making the side more difficult to defend.

Add the domination New York displayed over the New York Cosmos on Wednesday in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to the last two performances in the league and you have a team that is looking to rise up the standings quickly.

The Black & Gold will look to combat that better than the team did earlier in the season.

Back on March 28, when the Red Bulls were still undefeated, New York came into MAPFRE Stadium and left with a 2-1 win. Berhalter felt his team underperformed on the night and is looking for a better display this weekend.

"We want to play our game against them," he earlier in the week. "I think we were a little bit disappointed with how we played last time against them and at home, we certainly want to play our style and we want to emphasize that. The emphasis this week is going to be on, how do we continue to play our style and move the ball quickly."

As is usual at Crew SC training, the main focus is on Columbus - playing the right way and earning results because of that - and not as much on the opponent.

"I think it's a decent group. They have a good team," Berhalter said of the Red Bulls.

"I think they'll be ready, but again, it's about us and being able to play our game and that's going to be important. Just us moving the ball and having the confidence to play."

Crew SC will need to do just that on Saturday at home or risk falling at the hands of a team that is on the rise in MLS.