UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — They may be in their first playoff series in five years, but that doesn't mean that D.C. United can't talk a good game in this postseason.
"They're a beatable team," said United manager Ben Olsen in his postgame press conference following Saturday night's first leg Eastern Conference Semifinal that finished 1-1.
“I always felt good about how we match up against them, and tonight just proved it right,” said D.C. captain Chris Pontius after the game.
But New York Red Bulls veteran defender Heath Pearce has gotten wind of the comments. So what does he feel about the strong words coming from their Eastern rivals?
"Talk is cheap. Ask me on Thursday," he told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday after the club's final practice before Wednesday night's decisive second leg (8 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). "We got a draw at their house and I'd like to think if we were that beatable, they probably would have beat us there."
The 28-year-old California native may only be in his sixth month at the Red Bulls, but he already very well aware of the rivalry that exists between D.C. and New York.
"It's great," Pearce said. "There's a lot of hostility between the teams which always creates a great atmosphere on gameday."
Pearce will likely line up at left back once again, unless Red Bulls Designated Player Raf Márquez is a late scratch. But all indications from manager Hans Backe on Tuesday is that the Mexican international will be in the starting lineup.
The Red Bulls aren't saving any of their big guns in what could be their last game of the year. And you wouldn't expect any less from a team that has its crosshairs on MLS Cup 2012.
"This is a big-market team and we expect to win a championship," Pearce said. "That's our main focus right now. Anything else less than that is a failure and should be a failure to any player on any team in any league in the world."