Harrison, NJ (Sports Network) - There is no MLS team in better form than Red Bull New York.
The Red Bulls will welcome the Columbus Crew to Red Bull Arena on Sunday with an opportunity to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games.
New York has dropped just two points over that stretch, going 5-0-1 to climb to the top of the Eastern Conference with 24 points for the season.
Dax McCarty, who marked his return from injury with a substitute appearance in New York's 1-0 defeat of the Los Angeles Galaxy last weekend, believes that solid defensive play has been the key to the club's rich vein of form.
"We're pretty confident right now," the midfielder told the club's official website. "I've been able to I guess sit back and observe a little bit more of the games, and I think we'd all admit that we're not playing great soccer, but we're playing effective soccer.
"It starts at the back, you know? Defensively we're really strong, obviously Louis (Robles) is playing very well and making some big saves for us, and then (Jamison) Olave and Markus (Holgersson) have really formed a nice partnership. So it seems that that's our foundation."
The Red Bulls are in the middle of a three-game homestand, something that McCarty hopes the club can use to its advantage.
"We pride ourselves on our form at home," McCarty continued. "And we're usually really strong at home. We obviously need six points out of these last two games. We've played quite a few more games than most of the other teams in the league, so if we close out with six points I think, obviously when other teams catch up to us, hopefully we'll still be right around the top."
One of those teams in the mix to challenge the Red Bulls is Columbus. The Crew have played three fewer matches than their Eastern Conference counterparts, and the nine-point gap between the two clubs means that Columbus would go level with New York with maximum points from those matches.
The first step in that process begins Sunday with a victory at Red Bull Arena, but the Crew will have to do it without defensive mainstay Glauber. The Brazilian veteran will miss the match through yellow card accumulation, and with Chad Marshall and Agustin Viana being ruled out with hamstring injuries, head coach Robert Warzycha could be tempted to hand a starting role to rookie Chad Barson.
"For some players, being smart is their best quality," Warzycha told the Crew's official website. "That's Chad's quality, being calm on the ball and good passing: that's what he does.
"He can play anywhere in the back four positions. Because the New York forwards are big, maybe (playing center back) would be too much to ask. As of right now, on the right side he can get his feet wet."
Barson managed just seven minutes last weekend, coming on as a substitute for Tyson Wahl.
"I learned you always have to be ready for the game," Barson said in an interview with the club. "You'd never expect to get into a game like that. You think the guys on the field are going to close it out, but a guy goes down with an injury and you get thrown out there. You just have to make sure you're doing whatever is possible to help the team get a result."
Preparation will be key in helping the Crew exact a little revenge on the Red Bulls. The two clubs faced one another at Crew Stadium on May 4 with New York stealing a victory thanks to a late strike from Tim Cahill.