HARRISON, N.J. – After his Red Bulls side was defeated 1-0 on Sunday in the first leg game of their Western Conference semifinal series with the LA Galaxy, head coach Hans Backe said the series was still “wide open.”
Backe was optimistic that his team can go into the Home Depot Center on Thursday night (11 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, TSN2; live chat on MLSsoccer.com) and get a win based on their ability to carve out clear scoring opportunities in the first leg.
“It’s a lot to pick up four or five chances against LA,” Backe said. “They’ve been rock-solid defensively. In a way, you can say they were solid, but on the other hand, you can say they were not solid because we got that many chances.”
New York did play offensive-minded soccer in their loss and may have felt slightly hard done to not get a result. Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders made several key stops, including one world-class effort to deny Joel Lindpere in the second half. The strong attacking presence has midfielder Dax McCarty echoing Backe’s sentiments about being ruthless in front of goal.
“It will be a big key for us that when we get into the attacking third, we do create chances, we have to be decisive,” McCarty said. “I think sometimes we are indecisive. The Galaxy sat back after the first goal and they got numbers behind the ball.”
Backe is uncertain how the Galaxy will approach Thursday night's match; will they bunker down and try to hold the lead or will go for a decisive goal early on to settle the series?
No matter how the Galaxy start the game, the Red Bulls can’t squander their chances like they did in the first leg.
“I think the good thing about LA, especially LA at home, it doesn’t matter the score from the first leg,” Backe said. “They’re going to go for it in the second leg. I think that will make for a very wide-open game.”
On Oct. 4, New York recorded a 2-0 win over the Galaxy at Red Bull Arena thanks to a Luke Rodgers goal in the 32nd minute and a 55th-minute strike by Thierry Henry. On that occasion, the Red Bulls took the game to the Supporters' Shield winners, and they must do the same if they intend to advance Thursday.
McCarty believes the Red Bulls must use their danger men in attack to hoist themselves back into the series.
“We have to try to create good solid chances, get the ball to our forwards – Luke, Dane [Richards], Thierry – whoever is playing up top. At the end of the day, you need to finish your chances and I think we’re going to get plenty of chances.”