Macoumba Kandji
Getty Images

Red Bulls firing on all cylinders ahead of D.C. match

As Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe stood on the sidelines watching his team practice on Thursday, he couldn’t help but crack a smile watching the group interact. There was his New York squad, near the top of the table, talking tactics and working through their problems – and he didn’t even have to step in.

“The session was very good – it was very lively,” Backe told “You can see confidence and you can see the composure we had on the ball. We didn’t force many things today.”

It got feisty at times on the field, but it wasn’t frustration born from lack of effort. Rather, this team is beginning to hold each other accountable and demanding perfection each day.

A last-place team in 2009, this year’s Red Bulls hold each other to a higher standard.

And it doesn’t hurt that forward Mac Kandji could be on the bench for Saturday’s game against D.C. United. Thursday’s was the sixth practice session for Kandji, who could “be an option for 20, maybe 30 minutes” on Saturday, according to Backe.

Backe also said that Salou Ibrahim, who has struggled with some recent knocks, is available to start. Carl Robinson, while not ready to play this weekend, is also “very close” to match readiness. The New York coach praised the player’s work ethic after knee surgery a little over a month ago.

“The way his knee responded is perfect,” Backe said. “There is no swelling at all.”

For D.C. United, the same backline should be in place, a unit which has allowed just two goals in the last four games. Backe is pleased with their play and shape. The standard 4-4-2 formation will be implemented after the team went with a 4-5-1 starting lineup for the Colorado match.

Kristian Dyer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

MLS LIVE now only $7.99

Decision Day presented by AT&T is Sunday. But, one thing is already decided. MLS LIVE is the best way to watch all the out-of-market action on Decision Day (October 22)*. You can watch multiple games on multiple devices or watch four games on one screen with your laptop. Subscriptions are only $7.99 (or $4.99 if you use our iOS app). *Some blackout rules apply.

MLS Decision Day presented by AT&T

Sunday, October 22 at 4:00pm ET

Decision Day is the only day of the season when every team plays at the exact same time. The result is the most intense and dramatic two hours of the MLS season as teams fight for playoff positions. Watch MLS's thrilling end to the season on ESPN & MLS LIVE.

Pay As We Play!

New York Red Bulls Pay As We Play Playoff Plans, presented by New Jersey Lottery for the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs are available now! Red Members have their normal seats included for up to two playoff games, but have access to additional seats through the Pay As We Play program.