With first place in the Eastern Conference currently in hand, you can bet the New York Red Bulls will do everything in their power to make sure it doesn’t slip away.
The Red Bulls will look to gain another three big points in the Eastern Conference Saturday when they hit the road to take on the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium for a 7:30 PM kick off on MSG.
New York enters the contest fresh off a 3-2 win over Sporting KC that not only catapulted the team into first, but also extended the team’s unbeaten streak to four straight. During that 3-0-1 run, two of the three wins have come against opponents in the East, further contributing to the team’s climb up the ladder. The third was of course the dramatic 4-3 victory at Red Bull Arena over Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake.
“The last few games have shown us that, our grit and determination, we can grind out results, sometimes even if we’re not playing well,” midfielder Jonny Steele said Thursday afternoon. “The heart and determination of the team is to try and get three points.”
Success has undoubtedly been on New York’s side in the more recent matches against the Crew. Dating back to 2011, the Red Bulls have posted a stellar 3-0-3 record against Columbus, including this season’s regular season 1-0-1 performance.
In the first of those two previous meetings, a May 4 clash at Crew Stadium, the Red Bulls secured three points thanks to a terrific header from Tim Cahill in the 80th minute. Solid defending all but ensured a point, but the late goal from Cahill provided the additional two.
Three weeks later, on May 26, the Red Bulls played host to Columbus in a match that quickly saw the home side slip into an early 1-0 deficit when Dominic Oduro sent home his sixth of the season in the second minute of play. Thierry Henry answered back in the 31st minute to level the score before halftime when he chipped one over goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
Tied 1-1 at the start of the second half, both sides exhibited strong defensive play that squashed limited chances over the first 25 minutes. That is, until Columbus’ Federico Higuain stood over the penalty spot in the 74th minute and quickly converted to give his team the one-goal advantage. But New York still had one more goal up its sleeve, when Jamison Olave controlled a pass from Jonny Steele and buried the equalizer.
“They gave us quite a good game when we played them at home and we know on the road they’re a very difficult team to play against at home,” Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty said. “It’s going to be a tough game. We know they’re in a little bit of a funk, but that makes them all the more dangerous.”
The Crew, winless over the last four and losers in seven of the last eight, currently sit 10 points outside the playoff picture at eighth place in the Eastern Conference off a 23-point, 6-11-5 record. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try and fight their way back into the playoff bubble.
“They’re a team that has great quality and a team that is one win from putting themselves into the thick of the playoff picture,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said. “So this is a big game for them.”
Looking for a place to watch the match? Join us for our Outdoor Viewing Party at Brooklyn Bridge’s Harbor View Lawn at Pier 1 (underneath the bridge). More info is available on our Pub Partners page, or you can RSVP directly on our Facebook event.
The Red Bulls return home on Saturday, Aug. 17, when they take on the Philadelphia Union at 8:00 PM. Tickets to the match, which also includes a must-see post-match fireworks display, are available at Red Bulls Ticket Central or by calling 877.RB.SOCCER.