"We are ready for a fight."
Gerhard Struber said he knows the New York Red Bulls are in for a battle when they travel to Philadelphia Union on Saturday for the first round of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Struber said the team will be ready for the match come 2:30 PM ET kick off.
"We have, right now, the quality, the power and the willingness to go in the next round. We know Philly's tough -- a massive -- opponent in the first round," Struber said. "But we are ready. We are ready for a big fight. We are ready for for one more great game and for one more great performance. I can feel hungry boys in my dressing room. And this makes the situation for Philly not easier."
New York and the Union met three times in 2021, with Philly winning one match and the two sides splitting the points in the other two.
New York has lost just once since mid-September and comes into the game winning seven of their last 12.
"Right now, in our momentum, with all that what we learned the last few months, we can beat Philly and this is the big goal on Saturday," Struber said. "We drive not to Philly, for 'Nice to be in the playoffs.' I think, right now, it's the time to go into the next round. We know big respect for Philly, but we win on Saturday. That's it."
Captain Sean Davis knows it won't be easy.
"We're going to have to be at our best," Davis said. "We got to play them three times this year, all three games were difficult. I feel like they were also really close. Looking back on those games, we were disappointed not to pick up three points at times. It's not going to be easy. Like I said, we're going to have to be at our best but, you know, these are the types of games that you want to play in as a player."
New York rallied late to earn their 12th-consecutive playoff appearance -- but that's not enough for Struber.
"The team has a big belief. Right now, we realize we are in the playoffs, but now we have to create the next goal. The next goal is clear: Four games," Struber said. "We have the power and the conviction to go into this playoffs in a successful way."
Davis feels the same way.
"The locker room is very close, we understand how special this run has been -- but we want more," Davis said. "It's not enough for us just to make the playoffs, it's important for us to have a big performance and fight for this result. I know how great of a feeling it would be after the game, but it's not going to be easy. That's ultimately what we're fighting for and what we fought for over the last two months, so just really excited for this opportunity. It's a huge chance for our group."
Postseason rookie John Tolkin said it will just be like a normal match -- turned up.
"Simple way to put it: It's just a regular game jacked up about 10 notches," Tolkin said. "I'm looking forward to it. Personally, it'll be my first playoff game, so I'll be curious to see what it's like. I'm excited."
For the young players in the group, Davis said that the recent run of matches will benefit RBNY as a whole.
"Of course, they're they're looking to win just as bad as us and it's going to be a close game," Davis said. "I'm hoping that these experiences have been important for the group over the last couple of months. They have helped guys grow. I know, especially for a young team, I think these have been really important experiences for the guys and I think that it'll help make the difference on Saturday."
As of now, it all comes down to Saturday's match.
"All of our hard work has led us to this opportunity, but now it's it's time for us to take advantage of this opportunity," Davis said. "Even though we've been on a great run, we have to make sure that we carry that momentum into the game Saturday."