HARRISON, N.J. – From the start of the season, the New York Red Bulls have expressed their desire to want to make Red Bull Arena a fortress for them to play in and one to which opposing teams would fret going.
So far, they've done just that.
New York are back in first place in the Eastern Conference after a week that saw them go 2-0-1 in a three-games-in-seven-days homestand that included a pair of games in sweltering conditions. The Red Bulls first tied the Seattle Sounders last Sunday, before blanking both the Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union and improving their unbeaten home record to 7-0-3 on the year – a tie for league-best with Houston.
“[Head coach Hans Backe] has put an emphasis on playing well at home and we take it upon ourselves really every day that we play in front of our fans to give a good result and keep them coming back,” Connor Lade told reporters after Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Union. “We feel like we can really get after teams more at home and just make teams fear coming in here.”
HIGHLIGHTS: NY 2, PHI 0
The fans also deserve some credit. Red Bull Arena has received criticism for its inability to sell out on a consistent basis. In recent weeks, however, attendance has been robust, averaging nearly 21,000 per game in June and July despite brutal heat on the East Coast. And although the venue is one of the largest soccer-specific stadiums in the league, the stadium's covered design helps magnify the supporters' voices.
“We have incredible fan support; it was a great turnout today,” said Kenny Cooper, the scored the two goals in Saturday’s match. “The fans bring a great passion and hopefully they go home happy and continue to come out and support us the way they have in these past couple games.”
Even with their proven ability of grabbing results at home this season, New York admit there is room for improvement. From scoring more goals to not allowing so many, the Red Bulls believe they can still be even more dangerous at Red Bull Arena.
“If we can keep this home record we will get into the playoffs but I still think ... we want to be better,” said Backe. “We’re picking up results but still we have the feeling we need to be better in our attacking game, in our possession. We need to be more precise.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.