CHICAGO, IL – The temperature figures to be milder Saturday as the New York Red Bulls complete an unprecedented stretch of three afternoon home games in seven days by trying to end the Philadelphia Union's three-game win streak.
New York (10-5-5) opened this homestand Sunday with a 2-all draw with Seattle as temperatures hovered in the mid-80s. That was manageable compared to Wednesday's high of 106 degrees - the hottest July 18 ever recorded in New Jersey - during a 1-0 victory over Chicago.
"It was amazing," forward Thierry Henry said. "I never played in anything like this. It's the kind of day where you want to stay in the air conditioning and drink lots of water. You just do whatever you can."
The forecast Saturday is for the temperature to top out near 80 degrees during this game.
The Red Bulls improved to 6-0-3 at home Wednesday as Henry ended a four-game goal drought with his first since April 28. There was speculation that the French star would not play because of the heat and schedule, but he insisted on making himself available.
"The boss (coach Hans Backe) asked me if I wanted to play," Henry said. "I told him that I needed to play. I needed to get back into a rhythm, because I haven't been playing much lately. I'm getting better, but to get better, I need minutes."
Henry is tied for third in the league and second on the team with 10 goals, one behind Kenny Cooper - who has gone a season-high seven straight games without scoring.
Cooper did not start Wednesday and could be back in the lineup alongside Sebastien Le Toux, who has started his first two games with New York since being acquired last Friday from Vancouver.
Le Toux, who played for Philadelphia (6-9-2) from 2009-10, will be facing his former team for the second time after the Whitecaps and Union played a scoreless draw March 31.
"I already played one game with Vancouver in Philly so it was very special," Le Toux told the Red Bulls' official website. "But now it is here and it's going to be a memory."
The Union are seeking the franchise's first four-game win streak. They have lost in their previous two trips to Red Bull Arena and fell 3-2 at home to New York on May 13.
"It's going to be a tough game," defender Amobi Okugo told the Union's official website. "It's going to be a rivalry. We're going to try and get a result because we haven't had one there before. I know the guys in here are ready and excited about the challenge."
The Union did not have a mid-week MLS game, but fell 1-0 to English club Aston Villa on Wednesday. Coach John Hackworth used most of his starters in the first half before substituting liberally with an eye on Saturday's game.
"We built some momentum and we're going to continue in New York where it's a tough place to play," defender Sheanon Williams said. "They'll be ready to go and we're going to do our best to come up with points."