HARRISON, N.J. – On Wednesday, the same night as the New York Red Bulls' disastrous 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake at Red Bull Arena, the Portland Timbers were playing out a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The result put Portland in sole possession of the 10th and final MLS playoff spot, one point ahead of the Red Bulls.
The two sides square off on Saturday in Harrison, and four of New York’s last five games will pit them against teams currently in playoff position.
“We need to pick up wins, that’s for sure,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said. “I think it’s good for us to play the playoff teams now so we really know what we have to do. Probably three or four wins out of five to make the playoffs.”
The Red Bulls entered their match against RSL coming off a win over FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas. But whatever momentum generated by that win was squashed inside of 21 minutes as the Claret-and-Cobalt struck for three goals.
“It’s disappointing, isn’t it?” forward Luke Rodgers said on Wednesday night. “Massive win Saturday [against FCD]. Everyone’s been buzzing in training, everyone looked sharp. It just seems as if every time we mistake, we get punished. Everyone makes mistakes; it’s a part of life. We just seem to make them and get punished straightaway.”
With a sell-out crowd expected at Red Bull Arena against Portland, the focus is on three points in any way, shape or form.
“If someone would have said to us at the beginning of the week you’re going to win two and lose one, I think we would have took it,” Rodgers said. “If we can go out and get a win on Saturday, we’ve got two good results plus it’s against Portland as well, which we need, so it’s classed as double points. So if we can win on Saturday, we can forget about this.”