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New York Red Bulls take to road, attempt to snap losing streak

Apr 6, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) reacts after a goal by midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr (23) against Minnesota United during the second half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK — When you’re in the midst of a three-game losing streak, heading out for a two-game road trip isn’t the usually prescribed antidote.

The New York Red Bulls, however, head to Kansas City for a 7 p.m. ET match Sunday and then return east for a jaunt up I-95 to Foxboro, Mass., to face New England six days later in an attempt to shake a troubling 1-3-1 start.

“I don’t go in thinking streaks and losing,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “So for me it’s, . . . this process trying to get the team to look like our team and to get guys individually and collectively to do that.

“With the ball, we want to shift things to be more aggressive. We want Brad [Wright-Phillips] turning. We want guys thinking about going forward. We’re excited for that challenge.”

One of the few advantages for New York could be Kansas City fatigue. Sporting KC is coming off a 5-2 Concacaf Champions League loss Thursday night to Mexico’s Monterrey, the second leg of a 10-2 aggregate shellacking. At least in league play, Kansas City has given up only five goals in five games while managing a 2-1-2 record.

But Armas isn’t putting much stock in capitalizing on a reeling Sporting side.

“There will be some disappointment on their part,” he said. “But they’re a strong-willed team. And any energy they might lack, they’ll get it from their supporters and being home.”

Earlier in the week, Armas said he wasn’t seeing glaring deficiencies on his team’s part, but rather league-leading defensive numbers in terms of shots and shots-on-goal allowed.

“The goals will come,” he said.

But even defensively, goalkeeper Luis Robles isn’t satisfied.

“I cringe,” the team captain said about the defensive statistics. “The least amount of shots given up and yet six have gone in, so you say the save percentage is low and you say, ‘Fire the goalie, that guy sucks.’ Even defensively, if you ask the guys, we feel can we can be better. And things have been a bit loose, and we’ve been a little bit unlucky.

“But I’ve been in this situation before, and as long as you continue to put in the right input, eventually you’ll get the right output.”

As two of the original 10 teams in MLS, the Red Bulls (née MetroStars) and Sporting (née Wiz) have played each other 45 times through the years, each winning 21 and drawing the other three. In Kansas City, though, the Wiz/Wizards/SKC have a decided 15-9-5 edge.

Over the last three years, the teams have met once each season, with Kansas City winning at home in 2016 and 2017 and the Red Bulls winning last year.

Still, the Red Bulls’ current three-game slide looms large.

“I haven’t even thought [about the losing streak],” Robles said. “I just feel like we’re not playing well, and for me the most important thing is that we start playing well. It’s not necessarily we’ve lost three games in a row, it’s just for five games that the season has been, we haven’t been at our best. So what I’d like to see is us taking a great step forward and being the team we’re capable of being.”

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