New York City FC will look to continue their torrid play on Sunday when they host the Chicago Fire FC.
NYCFC (6-3-2, 20 points) have won two in a row and are unbeaten in their last six matches overall (5-0-1). The club has highlighted that surge with a franchise high-tying four consecutive shutouts, including a 2-0 victory over D.C. United on Wednesday.
Valentin Castellanos scored his seventh goal in his past five matches on Wednesday after converting a penalty kick just before halftime. Castellanos, however, will sit out Sunday's game due to suspension (yellow card accumulation), with either Heber or Talles Magno expected to draw into the lineup.
"It has to be the right decision when I think about my values and how I see things. It has to be fair and it's also about what's important in this game," NYCFC coach Ronny Deila said. "How do I see the match and who will suit that best. It's always tougher to pick the team when you have a lot of options, but it's very good because you can change things during the game too."
NYCFC are 5-1-1 in New York this season and have won six in a row at home against the Fire. Castellanos scored on a penalty kick in the teams' last encounter, lifting NYCFC to a 1-0 win over Chicago on Oct. 27.
While NYCFC are ascending, the Fire (2-5-5, 11 points) are struggling to escape the basement in the Eastern Conference. Chicago saw its winless stretch extend to eight matches (0-5-3) following a 3-3 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.
Xherdan Shaqiri collected a goal and an assist against the Red Bulls. The former Liverpool midfielder has been a part of seven of Chicago's past nine scores with three goals and four assists.
"I'm disappointed because we came here to win the game," Shaqiri said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. "We have to learn from these mistakes. We have to manage the game better."
Fire goalkeeper Gabriel "Gaga" Slonina made news on Friday by taking to social media to announce that he has committed his international future to the United States men's national team. The 18-year-old was born in Illinois, however Poland is the birth country of his parents.
--Field Level Media