HANOVER, N.J. — It might not be the newest, shiniest stadium where a record-breaking attendance number is set virtually every game.
But for New York Red Bulls coach Chris Armas, there’s “magic” in Red Bull Arena and he’s hoping for another example in the Eastern Conference Championship second leg on Thursday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, TSN2, TVAS2) against Atlanta United.
“There's something special in that building that has led this team to win at home and we've won big at home,” Armas said after training on Tuesday. “There’s something magical about the way the guys feel and what what we've done in there, what what we've accomplished, the trophy that recently we lifted in that building when the pressure was on. I do expect our fans and supporters to come out with hope and belief and energy that we can feed off of because I can promise you that, the whistle blows, we're going after it and we’ll need all the help that we can get.”
Some of the Red Bulls' most decisive wins this year, in the biggest of games, were at Red Bull Arena. There was the 4-0 drubbing of New York City FC in the first NY Derby match of the season, a comprehensive 2-0 win over Atlanta United that kept them in the Supporters’ Shield race and a 3-0 victory over Columbus Crew SC in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
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“They’ve been supporting us all season and it’s going to be extremely important for them to come out and support us again,” defender Michael Murillo said through a translator. “Obviously the energy they bring to us every single match is extremely key for us when we’re out there. It will be really important for them to be there and support us the way they usually do.”
Midfielder Alex Muyl knows having their fans behind them will be crucial, even with temperatures expected to be near freezing on Thursday.
“Any time you can get support from your fans and people to come out to the stadium it’s a good feeling,” Muyl said. “...Of course we draw inspiration from that and all year we’ve used them to give us energy and hope in times when it’s not been easy. We’re definitely going to rely on them.”
As for the chatter that the deficit is too large to overcome, that the Red Bulls are dead and buried with a 3-0 deficit, Murillo isn’t worried.
“They’re entitled to have their opinion obviously. It’s fine if they want to believe that,” he said. “But we know the objective, we know the goal we have and what we can do. That’s all that we care about. If everyone believes in this locker room, we’re going to be fine.”
And if the Red Bulls become the first team to bounce back to win a series after a three-goal deficit through the first leg and a book a spot in MLS Cup to boot, there will be no bigger party in the tri-state area than at Red Bull Arena.
“We know if we can get out of this, it’s going to be a crazy story,” Muyl said. “What a story this will be.”