Red Bulls players were quick to say Saturday's draw felt more like a loss. Some even suggested it felt worse than a loss considering the implications involved, including the chance to snap a 10-year winless streak and the possibility of locking up a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Debilitating as it was to watch two points slip from their grasp in the dying minutes/seconds of Saturday's match, the overall feeling in Tuesday's training session was centered on bouncing back this weekend when Toronto FC comes to town for a 7PM Saturday kick off (MSG/93.1 FM).
Midfielder Dax McCarty reiterated the up-and-down sentiment while speaking to the media outside the pitch at Montclair State University.
“That was probably the worst I’ve ever felt after a game, and I’m not even exaggerating,” he said. “That was a serious, serious blow.”
After the dust settled and the players overcame the heart-breaking outcome in New England, it was time to switch to the positives. Sure, it might be hard to walk away with such an optimistic outlook after an outcome like that, but New York still has plenty to play for as they head into the final weeks of the season.
“We know we can still win the East,” McCarty said. “I think the focus now has just got to be the next game against Toronto. They certainly don’t have the playoffs to play for, but they’re playing for their jobs. And when guys are playing for their jobs that can make it a trickier game. So it’ll be a tough one, but it’s one where we need to win.”
There’s no hiding the fact that New York has played well at Red Bull Arena this season. Up until the Sept. 13, 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City, the Red Bulls had maintained an undefeated record at home, a place they dubbed a “fortress” as early as the March 25 home opener against Colorado.
Combine New York’s 10-1-3 record within the confines of RBA, along with the fact that three of the final four matches provide home-field advantage, and the formula seems right for the Red Bulls to bounce back Saturday and make a strong run through the final match of the season, an Oct. 27 meeting in Philadelphia.
“It will be tight, will be down to the wire. Every team has to play each other, so that’s when you need to step up – when you play these games,” Head Coach Hans Backe said. “First of all, of course, we have to focus on the Toronto game to pick up a home win and then we play once again Chicago, Kansas at home, both games. So it’s in our hands.”
The Red Bulls kick off against Toronto this Saturday at 7PM. The first 5,000 fans 12 and under receive a free Thierry Henry jersey tee upon entry (while supplies last). To get your tickets, visit Red Bulls Ticket Central or call 877.RB.SOCCER.