The New York Red Bulls held a light practice Monday morning at Montclair State University. Coming off a 1-1 draw in Toronto Saturday, followed shortly after by Tuesday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Galaxy, a number of players chose to use the day for regeneration and light work on the pitch.
But make no mistake about it; the team knows what lies ahead at Red Bull Arena Tuesday night. Not only is New York going up against the league’s leading point getters in LA (64 points, 18-3-10), but the outcome of the game will weigh heavily on playoff implications.
Captain Thierry Henry, the late-game hero who helped secured one point against Toronto, isn’t looking at the playoff picture just yet. Instead, he’s focused on the task at hand.
“I do believe if we do something good against LA then we can look at the table and see what’s going to happen,” he said after practice.
Head Coach Hans Backe shared a similar sentiment.
“It’s a massive game tomorrow, definitely, because then it could set us up in a very good position for the last two games head-to-head against Kansas City and Philadelphia.”
From a positional standpoint, Backe noted that he was satisfied with the look of the back line that played against Toronto and will continue to move forward with that set up. Rafa Marquez, who made the switch to midfielder for the Toronto matchup, will likely assume that position against LA as well.
New York currently maintains its hold on the 10th and final spot, should the postseason begin today. Although the Red Bulls’ 40 points ties them with Portland, New York’s goal differential gives them the tie-breaker.
While the Galaxy will be without star forward Landon Donovan, who did not travel with the team to New York, defender Jan Gunnar Solli knows the team’s versatility is still nothing to take lightly.
“It’s always a little bit difficult because LA can play with their shoulders really low,” said Solli. “And we need to get a good result.”
Goalkeeper Frank Rost on the other hand isn’t all that concerned with the opponents from here on in, be they from LA, Kansas City or Philadelphia. He’s made his prerogative plain and simple.
“If we get three points against LA we make a big step for the playoffs,” he said. “I’m only interested in the points, not in the team from LA.”
New York kicks off Tuesday against Los Angeles at 8 ET from Red Bull Arena. Watch all of the action on ESPN2 and follow live, in-game Tweets from the official New York Red Bulls Twitter account.