HARRISON, N.J. – Once again, the New York Red Bulls find themselves down in the first leg of an elimination series, the same scenario that has played out the last two years for this team.
And both times, that scenario has ended with the Red Bulls knocked out of the postseason.
Still, the Red Bulls have the rest of the week to regroup and recover ahead of Sunday's second leg against Toronto FC after falling 2-1 at home on Monday. And manager Jesse Marsch is optimistic, noting his team's underdog status as the sixth seed and the fight they had to show just to get in the postseason.
The Red Bulls, after ongoing a youth movement of sorts this offseason, were the last team in the conference to wrap up a playoff berth.
“We are now like the 1980 [US Olympic] hockey team times five. Okay, that's all right. It's only halftime,” Marsch said. “It's only halftime.”
Coming back in the second half of the East semis on Sunday will require the Red Bulls to regain the cohesion that marked their 4-0 away drubbing of Chicago last week in the Knockout Round of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. Against TFC on Monday, they were plagued all night by poor giveaways and mental mistakes, compounded by TFC's compact defense after the Reds took an early lead.
"It was really tough to find spaces to create something," midfielder Daniel Royer said. "They all stepped back and were waiting for giveaways to get a counter attack or to be dangerous after that. So, bad start and a lot of giveaways unfortunately. We were not at our best today.”
“Yeah, I mean, again, it's hard -- I'm a little perplexed," Marsch said. "I'm a little unsure as to why we were so unsure, and we're going to find a way to correct that, and then when we go up there on Sunday, we've got to find a way to throw everything we have at it.”