The Red Bulls held a late practice Thursday afternoon at Montclair State University in England-like weather conditions before taking the team bus to the airport for an evening flight out to Kansas City. Saturday’s 4 pm MSG match holds a crucial three points over the heads of New York and KC as both teams aim to lock up a spot in the playoffs with just under two weeks remaining in the season.
As the days continue to tear away from the month of October, head coach Hans Backe remains aware of the importance placed on finishing strong over the last two matches.
“I’d say the last five, six games have been crucial,” he said. “You can call it must-win games [but] now we have a really, really crucial game.”
Coming off a big win at home over the LA Galaxy, followed shortly after by an international break, the players are primed to close out their current run on a high note and extend it well into the postseason. But before the team can think of that, it first has to focus on those that remain in the regular season, a point that was reiterated by Captain Thierry Henry.
“We all know it’s a difficult place to go and win right now, but we’re going to go there and compete,” he said of the upcoming match against KC. “And don’t forget, we still have the game against Philly at home, so those two games are going to be vital.”
As the race in the Eastern Conference table continues to leave much to the imagination, the ideal outcome for the Red Bulls would be to win out the remaining two matches. With 43 points and two games in hand that scenario would leave New York with a 49-point finish and, perhaps, even a chance to claim first place in the East.
“Every point is crucial,” Backe said. “Even on the road if you can pick up a tie and go into the last home game against Philly would be great. But it’s so, so tight. Overall you just have to take care of your own business: perform, pick up points and don’t look at the standings or what the other teams are doing.”
New York kicks off against Sporting KC Saturday at 4 ET on MSG. Follow all of the in-game action through the official Red Bulls Twitter feed or join one of the three great viewing parties in the NY/NJ area - at Mulligan’s in Hoboken, NJ, The Football Factory at Legends in NYC or the Viking Army party at Woodwork in Brooklyn.