New York Red Bulls are all too familiar with losing the first leg of two-legged playoff series. Earlier this year, they lost 1-0 to Guadalajara on the road. Last year they lost at home to Toronto, the year before it was Montreal Impact, and the year before that it was Columbus Crew. New York went on to lose every one of those series.
Fans of the Red Bulls have a phrase that epitomizes this feeling of annual failure: “That’s So Metro”. It certainly seems like history is bound to repeat itself, that the Red Bulls will once again bow out early before reaching the elusive MLS Cup. Yet, this team feels different. This team has had the best season in MLS history and boasts one of the greatest defenses the league has ever seen. This team has a hunger for big moments, not a fear. If this Red Bulls team is truly different, they have 90 minutes on Sunday in front of their home fans to prove it.
After coming into the playoffs in sizzling form, New York Red Bulls fell flat on their faces at Columbus. They struggled to create chances from the run of play, instead relying on corners and free kicks. It nearly worked, as Tim Parker smashed his header off the post and into Zack Steffen’s head, just inches away from the all-important road goal. They had a chance to steal a result in the dying moments, but once again Steffen robbed Bradley Wright-Phillips of an equalizer. In the end, it wasn’t good enough, particularly from the wingers. Muyl and Royer will have to be much better if the Red Bulls are to turn this series around.
On the other hand, Columbus Crew executed their game plan to perfection. Gregg Berhalter started his side in a 4-4-2, the same formation that beat the Red Bulls back in July. He opted not to start Higuaín on short rest, something the Red Bulls failed to take advantage of. Once again, they proved they could pass through and over the Red Bulls’ high press. The goal came from a long diagonal pass to alleviate the pressure, a little bit of magic from Higuaín, and a tidy finish by Zardes.
At many points in the season, teams would panic when facing the Red Bulls, resulting in their defeat. Columbus stayed cool, calm, and collected, something the Red Bulls couldn’t quite handle. The series now lies in favor of Columbus. If they can limit New York once again, they will advance to the Eastern Conference final.
Both teams feel that the series is still within reach. The Red Bulls need to win by two goals to advance, a result they have seen often at Red Bull Arena this season. Columbus, meanwhile, needs to score just one goal to take the away goals tiebreaker and force the Red Bulls to score three. It is going to be a tense evening in Harrison.
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018
Kick-off: 19:30 (ET) | 00:30 (GMT)
Venue: Red Bull Arena
Referee: Alan Kelly
Broadcasting: Fox Sports 1 (USA) | TSN (Canada) | Sky Sports Football (United Kingdom)
04.22.17: New York Red Bulls 2-0 Columbus Crew
09.23.17: Columbus Crew 3-2 New York Red Bulls
06.09.18: Columbus Crew 1-1 New York Red Bulls
07.28.18: New York Red Bulls 2-3 Columbus Crew
11.04.18: Columbus Crew 1-0 New York Red Bulls
New York Red Bulls 1-0 (H) | D.C. United 2(2)-2(3) (A) | Minnesota United 3-2 (H) | Orlando City 2-1 (A) | Montreal Impact 3-0 (A)
New York Red Bulls
Columbus Crew 1-0 (A) | Orlando City 1-0 (H) | Philadelphia Union 0-1 (A) | San Jose Earthquakes 1-3 (A) | Atlanta United 2-0 (H)
Injured: Mike Grella (knee)
Doubtful: Niko Hansen (ankle)
New York Red Bulls
Injured: Kyle Duncan (anterior cruciate ligament), Florian Valot (anterior cruciate ligament), Vincent Bezecourt (medial collateral ligament), Tommy Redding (shoulder), Ben Mines (clavicle)
Afful – Mensah – Sauro – Valenzuela
Artur – Trapp
Santos – Higuain – Meram
New York Red Bulls
Murillo – Long – Parker – Lawrence
Adams – Davis
Muyl – Romero Gamarra – Royer
New York Red Bulls 2-0 Columbus Crew (AET)