UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Before the New York Red Bulls can even think of getting past FC Dallas this weekend, they’ve got to snap out of a troubling mental funk that could cost them their season.
The club’s 1-1 draw last Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps was their 15th of the season, tied with the Chicago Fire for the most in the league. It also extended their winless streak in league play to a stunning eight games, dating back to a 5-0 win over Toronto FC on July 6.
“It’s sort of been a frustrating season,” defender Chris Albright told MLSsoccer.com. “I think everyone needs to do their job and not worry about doing someone else’s job and winning the majority of battles all over the field, you hopefully come out on top.”
Certainly not all is lost for the Red Bulls who, despite their recent struggles, are just one point behind rival D.C. United for the 10th and final postseason spot.
Head coach Hans Backe, in fact, seems to have figured out the equation to get the Red Bulls into the postseason, beginning Saturday at Pizza Hut Park.
“Every point is crucial, even tied games when you go on the road,” Backe said. “It’s still up to us I think. If we’re good enough to pick up three wins, I think we are in the playoffs.”
Backe was also optimistic about the way his club responded after falling behind a goal against the ‘Caps, even after losing stalwart Jan Gunnar Solli to a controversial red card during first-half stoppage time.
“The way they responded was great,” Backe said. “We controlled the game, dictated the game. We had some decent chances to win at the end of the day. We have to build on that because that was the kind of effort you want — a team effort. The spirit [Monday and Tuesday at practice] was good.”
The team could also get a boost in the return of goalkeeper Frank Rost, who trained with the full team on Tuesday as he continues to recover from a nagging hamstring injury suffered last month.
Rost has yet to kick the ball but participated in small-sided games, and Backe expected him to participate fully either Wednesday or Thursday.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.