HARRISON, N.J. — Before they even found out that they had clinched a spot in the postseason thanks to the result of another game, the New York Red Bulls were already content.
Content that they had not given up yet another early goal, content with finally knowing they could stand toe-to-toe with Sporting Kansas City and content with a 90-minute performance in a scoreless draw that some members of the Red Bulls labeled as one of their best of the season.
“It’s definitely one of the better games so far we have played over 90 minutes,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe told reporters after the game. “That intense, a lot of energy, many, many chances to score. We should’ve won the game 3-, 4-0. … I must say I’m very pleased with our performance today.”
The Red Bulls had mentioned this week that if they were to avoid falling behind early again against Sporting KC, they would need to match Peter Vermes’ side’s energy. New York accomplished just that, bossing possession from the opening whistle, stymieing the visitors’ attack by pressing high and creating a number of decent chances.
It was the type of dominant performance against a top team that New York just has not had on a consistent basis this season. Even Thierry Henry, who admittedly is not one to be happy after a game that doesn’t end in a win in his team’s favor, was satisfied with the showing.
“The attitude was right,” said Henry. “The way we started the game you could see that we were not going to be in trouble. Sometimes you can see it, the game starts and you’re like ‘Wow, it’s going to be a long day today.’
“I didn’t think we were going to be in trouble tonight, although Kei Kamara had one and [Luis] Robles made an amazing save. But you could feel that we were not going to suffer a lot tonight.”
Despite not winning, the Red Bulls eventually secured a spot in the postseason on Saturday night thanks to D.C. United’s win over the Columbus Crew. New York will now head into their regular season finale at PPL Park with very little pressure, but that does not mean they’re overlooking the game against rivals Philadelphia Union.
In fact, they want to use their upcoming road trip as a tool to further build the momentum gained from their encouraging game against Sporting KC.
“This is a confidence booster for us,” said Dax McCarty. “You never want to saw that about a draw because you always want to win a game. But I thought we dominated, I thought we totally had the game. I don’t think they wanted any part of us tonight. We kind of game them a taste of their own medicine.”