UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Going into the final third of the season, confidence matters. Especially when, like the New York Red Bulls, you’re struggling to get results and you’re facing off against a longtime conference foe.
“The confidence as you can imagine is not the best,” Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry said at training on Thursday. “As I said after the game against Chicago, we are where we deserve to be.”
Last week’s 2-2 draw at home to the Chicago Fire left the Red Bulls in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, barely clinging to the final Wild Card playoff position. They have now gone six games in a row without a win.
On Saturday, they travel north to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Revolution (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), who might be just the salvo for the Red Bulls’ woes. The Revs are winless in their last five matches, and have the second worst home record in MLS.
Still, beating a regional rival is never easy. The Red Bulls earned a 2-1 win at Red Bull Arena earlier this season, but have won only four times in 25 matches all-time in New England. The last victory came in 2002.
But midfielder Joel Lindpere, who scored the late equalizer against Chicago and fired up his team with his play, believes nothing but three points will suffice this time.
“All the games now are tough for us, and we need to win and play every match with the intensity [we showed against Chicago],” Lindpere said. “When we go up [to New England] this weekend, we need to play that way because we need the win.”
Leading scorer Henry will make his first visit to New England, and he is geared up for a tight battle against a team that has been one of the Red Bulls’ biggest rivals since the start of the league.
“It’s going to be a special one, and a derby on top of it,” Henry said. “We need to grab some points.”
Lindpere’s leading impression: Against Chicago, the Estonian midfielder was inadvertently kicked in the face by a Fire player, leaving his face bruised and bleeding. But he kept playing, seemingly inspired by the incident, and he scored the equalizer late in the second half.
“Joel is a versatile player, a player who brings a lot of energy to the game,” head coach Hans Backe said. “Normally the 10 players on the field feed off of someone like him. I think our team does.”
Solli Out: Right back Jan Gunnar Solli will miss a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. On Friday at training, Solli worked separate from the team, spending most of his time on conditioning and working primarily on opening up his stride following the injury.
“He’s not ready for this weekend,” Backe said. “Beginning of next week he should be good.”
On a positive note, Backe announced that Teemu Tainio (groin) will play.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer