HANOVER, N.J. – The chance to put the nail in the coffin of Toronto FC’s season doesn’t factor into the mindset of the New York Red Bulls, even if they get the chance to exact a small bit of revenge this weekend.
The Red Bulls host Toronto on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena (5 pm ET | TSN2 – Full TV and streaming info), a meeting between two sides who slugged it out in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs a year ago. TFC would go on to win MLS Cup, but the Red Bulls went toe-to-toe with a side that won their domestic treble in 2017 in a playoff series that burned hot on and off the field. Toronto advanced on an away-goals tiebreaker after the series ended 2-2 on aggregate.
Now on Saturday, the Red Bulls can’t necessarily knock their Eastern Conference rivals out of postseason contention, but they can help to make it nearly impossible for TFC to repeat. Yet that isn’t a talking point that necessarily resonates with the RBNY players who experienced being bounced by the Reds in the playoffs a year ago.
“This game is important. It’s just like any other game for us,” said right back Michael Amir Murillo, via a team translator after Thursday’s training. “The simple thing is that, of course we want to get points, we want to get wins, because we have bigger goals. We want to win MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield as well. It’s just another, it’s just a matter of getting points.”
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The Red Bulls continue to churn out results, focused on the race for the Shield, where they sit four points out from Atlanta United. The desire to grab hardware at season’s end – or at the very least to earn a top-two seed in the conference and thus a Knockout Round bye in the postseason – is of the utmost importance.
Having a shot at the Supporters’ Shield and home-field advantage in the playoffs appears to be far more important to RBNY than some level of revenge against a team that, as midfielder Tyler Adams noted, proved themselves the best in the history of MLS last year.
“You need to turn the page quickly,” Adams said. “For us now, having another opportunity to beat them, their season – what they’ve done this year – has nothing to do with them being a bad team or anything like that,” Adams added. “They’re the same team, they’re such a dominant team. They made it farther than we did in the [Concacaf] Champions League so we give credit to them, we respect them. Saturday, obviously nothing but three points is on our mind.”