For the first time this season, New York City FC trending down. The timing couldn’t be worse as they prepare for Sunday’s Hudson River Derby match against the Red Bulls.

The Blues have won just twice since a 2-0 win on June 24 over their cross-river rivals and are coming off a 4-0 demolition by Supporters’ Shield leaders Toronto FC last Sunday. By contrast, the Red Bulls have won four consecutive MLS matches since the loss to NYCFC (11-7-4, 37 points).

Not having Yangel Herrera available hurt NYCFC’s attempt to leapfrog East-leading Toronto into first place, and Andrea Pirlo proved in his spot start that he can no longer make the same positive difference in the midfield that Herrera and Alex Ring have provided this year.

Injuries and suspensions have hurt the club during what was an important four-match stretch that concludes Sunday (6 p.m. ET, FS1) against the Red Bulls (11-8-2, 35 points), with six NYCFC players out of the lineup at Toronto. The Blues have stumbled through the stretch with a late draw against Toronto on July 19 and a shorthanded win against Chicago three days later before Sunday’s blowout loss.

“It’s a missed opportunity for us,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira said Sunday after the loss to Toronto. “... I think when you look at Yangel not playing, Maxime [Chanot] wasn’t here, is injured, [Ronald Matarrita] has been injured for quite a long time ... I think it’s just telling us we still have a long way to go, but they have been working for the last few years and we have to keep working on trying to improve.”

NYCFC’s current struggles allowed the Red Bulls to charge back into the East. The Blues, third in the conference, risk falling behind their rivals with a loss in the Bronx this weekend.