CHESTER, Pa. – New York picked a pretty good time to end their winless run on the road.
The playoff-bound Red Bulls ended the regular season on Saturday afternoon by winning their first away game since a May 19 victory over the Montreal Impact, defeating rivals Philadelphia Union 3-0 at PPL Park and avoiding the Knockout Round as the East’s third seed.
The commanding road triumph assured New York a place in the conference semifinals, but perhaps even more importantly, it buoyed team morale that was soaring high after an impressive outing in a draw with Sporting Kansas City last week.
“Playing on the road in this league isn’t easy, so for our mentality, I think it’s good,” Dax McCarty told reporters after the game. “We came out and we wanted to have the same mindset that we had against Kansas City at home. No matter who we play in the next round, we know it’s pretty much third place for us at this point, so we know we have a home game coming up and then we’re going to have to play well on the road if we want to go far in the playoffs.
“Teams are seeded ahead of us and so we’re going to have to go to some very tough places to play and get results, and today was a good step in the right direction for us.”
Head coach Hans Backe agreed with McCarty’s sentiments, saying that winning on the road was “massive” and that it “means a lot for the Red Bulls” confidence. But Backe also added that New York may be peaking at the best possible time.
“It looks like we start putting things together the right way moving into the playoffs,” said Backe. “You never know, but the last two games says it looks better than before.”
Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry was not so upbeat about the result, mostly because the Union looked the more dangerous side at times in the second half. But one Designated Player who was pleased with both the performance and the result was Tim Cahill, who said New York had no choice but to win.
“We said before the game, it meant a lot for us to try and win this game,” he said. “Now that we’ve done it, we can put our bodies back together and prepare for a big playoff time.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.