New York will look to bounce back Saturday from last week's season-opening defeat in Dallas when they take on Real Salt Lake (10pm ET, MSG+), a team that has proven to be quite the adversary for the Red Bulls in recent years. Spanning back to 2008, New York holds a 2-4-2 regular season record against Salt Lake and has struggled a bit on offense when facing the Western Conference side. As MLSsoccer.com’s Franco Panizo points out, Hans Backe is hoping to turn things in the right direction with a win at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“You can see that Salt Lake is a team that’s been almost playing together with the same players for three, four, five years perhaps,” Backe said. “And they are very organized in the defending-attacking game.”
Salt Lake mounted a strong comeback against the LA Galaxy in the season opener, surging back from a 1-0 deficit to win 3-1. Not only did they hand the MLS Cup champs their first loss of the season, but they did so on the pitch at the Home Depot Center, something no team was able to do last season. Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry took notice.
“They are, if not close with LA, the best team in this league by a distance,” Henry said. “It is not a coincidence we have not beaten them yet since I've been here. Not a lot of teams beat Salt Lake, especially at their place. So, it’s going to be a very difficult task.”
Backe believes the best way to accomplish that task is with a strong team effort.
“We know our playing style quite well too, then it’s all about to improve, improve every week with your playing style,” said Backe. “But against Salt Lake it’s about start well, defend well, find your shape and play more aggressive than we have done. We just have to play tougher.”
The Red Bulls kick off their second match of the season Sat. at 10pm ET, the first regular season match to air on MSG+. Red Bull Arena will host New York’s home opener on Sunday, Mar. 25, at 4pm ET against the Colorado Rapids. Get your tickets here.