Red Bulls not looking for revenge vs. Earthquakes

New York just need win, not retribution for MLS Cup Playoffs exit

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – For New York Red Bull fans, “revenge” will be the theme of this Saturday’s game against San Jose (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live). The Earthquakes, after all, were the club who prematurely dumped the Red Bulls from the MLS Cup Playoffs last autumn.

New York’s players and coaches, however, won’t talk about revenge this Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Instead, they’re just focusing on a win.

“They caused us some pain last year, kicking us out of the playoffs,” forward Thierry Henry said. “I don’t know if it’s a revenge game.”

It shouldn’t be. Last year’s playoff loss notwithstanding, the Red Bulls have bigger things to focus on, namely scoring and winning. The club is bottom of the table in goals scored, finding the back of the net just twice this year through four games. Henry has yet to score and despite holding possession for 64.5 percent in each of the last two games, New York have just one goal to show for all their time on the ball.

That, coupled with a tough Earthquakes side, makes for more than just revenge on Saturday night. The team is gearing up for a battle against San Jose.

“I think they’re better than last year, they’re very well-organized,” head coach Hans Backe said. “A very good possession side, they play good football.”

Which means the Red Bulls will need to play better in the final third than they’ve shown so far. Just one victory in four games to start the season is a rougher than expected start for a lineup which is, on paper, one of the deepest and best in the league. There is little argument that it has been underachieving stuff from the Red Bulls so far this season.

“Where we are at right now, we need to win,” Henry said. “I think right now, it doesn’t matter who we play, we need to win.”

The one bright spot from last year’s playoff series against San Jose was the emergence of forward Juan Agudelo. It was the teenage striker who assisted on New York’s lone goal in the second leg loss at Red Bull Arena, tallying his first point in MLS. While Agudelo says that the game on Saturday is as important as any other in the regular season, he does want to beat San Jose badly.

“We always wanted to go against them again,” Agudelo said. “Show them that, yeah, maybe last year they beat us, but we’re a different team this year.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer