The New York Red Bulls take a rare trip to the Pacific Northwest this weekend for a Supportrs’ Shield Showdown against the Seattle Sounders.
Sunday’s 9:00 PM kick off not only pits the league’s top two teams against one another, but also presents an opportunity for the Red Bulls to lock up a postseason bid. Saturday’s Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City and Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact matches may shine a little more light on the playoff scenarios, but as of right now we’ve compiled this handy rundown for your convenience.
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke addressed injury concerns earlier this week, but it would appear the Seattle Sounders are in a similar boat. Although Petke will likely face a night without Thierry Henry, Jamison Olave and Bradley Wright-Phillips available, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid also has two players listed as question marks heading into Sunday’s clash as forward Clint Dempsey continues to nurse a sore hamstring and Eddie Johnson deals with a shoulder injury.
For Petke and the Red Bulls, there’s no shortage of confidence heading into the tilt.
“It’s not about who we’re missing, it’s about who we have available to play,” Petke said. “I’m very confident in all of my players, from the number one on the roster to the final spot on the roster. No matter who we have on our roster and who is going to Seattle, we are the underdogs. That’s a given. And I’m fine with that. It’s a tough place to play, they’re going to have a huge crowd, and they’re playing some very good soccer right now, and it’s going to be a tough game. It’s about our players buying into the plan that they want to go over there with and managing the game properly.”
Whether at home or on the road, the club’s four-game win streak has the Red Bulls up beat, yet critical, according to midfielder Dax McCarty.
“Confidence is pretty high,” McCarty said. “We are happy with how we’ve been playing the past couple of weeks, but we’re not satisfied. We think we can play better, and obviously we have a big test coming up in Seattle. So it’s not going to be easy. I think we’re treating every game like it’s a playoff game and we have no other choice other than to come in and go for it and try to get three points, because we know every game is crucial.”
Heading out west for the first time since Aug. 25, when the Red Bulls fell to Chivas USA 3-2, it’s understood by all that the raucous crowd at CenturyLink Field is nothing to shy away from. Simply put, Petke is well aware of what awaits the club this weekend, and has a simple message for his players.
“First and foremost is to enjoy it,” Petke said. “Not many players get to play in those environments. And it’s going to be an enjoyable moment. There’s no pressure. We’re on the road. I’m the underdog in a team that’s equal to us in points pretty much and is playing great soccer right now. Go out, enjoy the moment first and foremost, but manage the game right.”
The Red Bulls kick off against the Sounders Sunday at 9:00 PM. Watch all the action live on ESPN.
Fans can also join Red Bulls defender Heath Pearce at the Manchester Pub in New York City. More info is available here on the Facebook event invitation.
New York returns home to Red Bull Arena on Saturday, Oct. 5, for a 7:00 PM kick off against the New England Revolution. Get your tickets now at Red Bulls Ticket Central, or call 877.RB.SOCCER.