The New York Red Bulls are on a roll. They are leaving a trail of victories and positive results that continues to astonish the naysayers and the pundits as their win over the Columbus Crew last weekend punched their ticket to go above the playoff line where they are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference.
A magical game-winning goal by center back Sean Nealis in the 87th minute did the damage and took home the full three points at Lower.com Field and shot the Red Bulls to fifth place before NYCFC demolished their opponents at Yankee Stadium with a six-goal barrage that would give them the one point lead.
But it didn't matter at that point, as the Red Bulls ended their match first and pulled themselves out of the verbal hole they dug themselves into. Yet the job is not done as the Red Bulls have not clinched a spot for the playoffs just yet. With four matches left on their regular-season schedule, the Red Bulls will return to our nation's capital to face DC United for the third and final time.
If any of you like the local New York City Soccer media did to see DC United get thrashed by NYCFC by a final of six goals to nil, then you weren't dreaming it. As far as I can remember since the league got started back in 1996, that match was the worst loss in that club's history and now they find themselves in a place that no one thought would happen.
The club has dropped out of a playoff spot and is currently in ninth place on the Eastern Conference table, but that doesn't mean they have stopped becoming a quality side. We all know that is not the case when it comes to hate DC week. Even after a loss like that, this club is still dangerous to face against and the Red Bulls know, they can't look past them at all.
I think this is a very dangerous situation for us, an opponent that is very dangerous and we know that, when you get some big hits in the face, your opponent will come back at you and counter off the topes," said Gerhard Struber. "It's going to be very, very dangerous and the big question is can we take the next hit, this is in our hands and it's very important for us to be ready for this game, and it's very important to take the next step going into the playoffs.
"It's going to be tough to play at DC and now we have some experience to play against DC as they have some very good players, they also have a good idea as they play with some aggression and good tactical awareness, so we need to be ready and continue this streak."
The New York Red Bulls need just six points to officially clinch a playoff spot to make it 12 straight seasons qualifying for the playoffs, but if they continue to do well within this final stretch and other results happen, there is a possibility for them to host an opening-round playoff game at Red Bull Arena.
While this will be their sixth time playing at Audi Field, the Red Bulls know they want to make sure that this new ground will not become a fortress against them. They are well aware that they can't have another poor performance like they had earlier this season when they earned their first loss in five matches.
"I feel like DC has improved a lot this year. We have played them a few times and they have given us some difficulties and we can't look past them, we understand how important these games are. We respect them and we have a lot of experiences on this under our belt improving our season," said Sean Davis. "We have a lot of confidence and there is no time like now on the road at DC United.
"We know how important this is, we know how strong they are and we know they are coming off a tough result last game. We know we have to be intense in these games and it will be down to our focus and we have been doing very well with our focus with these last few games."
Without a doubt, this will be the Red Bulls toughest match of the season. This could be the trap game you want to avoid, but with their current form, they look to be on point and a difficult opponent for anyone in the Eastern Conference, especially their last four clubs they have to face in this regular season. But as always it's hate DC week, so anything goes.