Saturday’s match against D.C. United is not only a chance for the New York Red Bulls to bounce back from a series of rough outings, but also an opportunity to do it in front of the Red Bull Arena home crowd.
Not to mention, there may be a little added incentive going up against a rival like D.C. - a chance to reclaim the Atlantic Cup.
“It’s more than a supporters thing,” Dax McCarty said following Thursday’s training session at the Red Bulls training facility. “The players know exactly what’s at stake here. It might not be as big of a trophy as the Supporters’ Shield or MLS Cup, but it’s a trophy nonetheless and it’s something that the supporters can take pride in, so the players take a lot of pride in it as well.”
New York enters Saturday’s match hungry for three points, hopeful to close out the month of August the same way they started it. That is to say, with a win and a bid for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Of the Red Bulls’ 39 points, four have come against D.C. United following a 0-0 draw during the Red Bull Arena home opener on Mar. 16, and a 2-0 victory at RFK Stadium on Apr. 13. If New York wishes to take the season series, and lay claim to the Atlantic Cup, they will have to either win, draw or lose by one goal.
You can bet that last piece of the scenario is not an option.
There’s no question the players will be looking to put in a hard-fought effort against their conference rivals, confident the effort can level things out heading into what remains of the regular season schedule.
“For me it’s really important, especially since they’re our biggest rival,” McCarty said. “It’ll set a tone for the rest of the season. We have eight games left, and we definitely want to go into the last stretch of the season with a victory against D.C.”