The end is near for the New York Red Bulls with two games remaining in the 2018 regular season. Sitting at 65 points, the team is still within reach of the Supporters Shield for the league’s best regular season record but will need Atlanta United to slip up in the final two games in order to reach that goal. It doesn’t appear to have distracted the team from the task at hand after solidifying their place in the Eastern Conference semi-final. Now, it is about results at Philadelphia and against Orlando the following week.
Adams Rested and Armas Keeps the Team Focused Ahead of Philly
Adams Feels Fresh after Rest
One of New York’s best players is feeling fresh after some time off due to back spasms. Tyler Adams has solidified the Red Bulls defense in the midfield and there was some concern after missing the last two games due to back ailments.
“I’m feeling good,” said Adams in training. “I think that now, with that rest, it’s kind of helped me recoup a little bit. A lot of times I haven’t been able to find the right balance with getting a break. Sometimes I go away, guys get five-day breaks. I haven’t really had that. So it’s been nice to catch up on that.”
The 19-year old has played in 25 games this season, surpassing the number he played last season. While still young, the wear and tear of an MLS season can catch up with a player and head coach Chris Armas will need to keep an eye on him for the remainder of the season. Needless to say he is an invaluable member of the team and while his health is important to the team, it is also essential to his future with a move to RB Leipzig rumored to happen in January.
Steady as She Goes for Chris Armas
Head coach Armas isn’t looking too far ahead with the Supporters Shield still within reach but he also is taking a pragmatic view heading into the playoffs. Their opposition this weekend does pose a significant threat, seeing as the Union have gotten the better of the Red Bulls throughout the campaign.
“It’s a close rival,” said Armas. “It’s Eastern Conference, it’s close proximity. We know them well. We seem to always meet in Open Cup and there’s just a lot of games between two teams that know each other well. They’re well coached and they’re organized. They have their style and it goes right up against ours.”
This will be the second meeting in MLS play between the two sides with the last meeting being a 0-0 draw back on May 26th. The Union were seemingly in a tailspin at that time, but have managed to make themselves one of the more dangerous teams heading into the playoffs and have grabbed at least a point nine of their last 10 games.
Wright-Phillips Still has Something to Prove
Bradley Wright-Phillips is never one to rest on his or the team’s accomplishments and wants everyone to know that there is still more to come. The prolific Red Bulls goal scorer has silenced critics this year who thought that his better days were behind him and continued to be the most understand goal poacher in the league.
“We have to prove to ourselves and to everyone that is rooting for us that we have consistency,” said Wright-Phillips. “Late down the stretch I think we’ve shown that for the last few games that we’ve played but it’s got to carry on from now until the end of the playoffs.”
Philadelphia presents a playoff-like atmosphere for both teams as there is a real possibility that the two could meet in the semi-finals. The two sides have battled in the past but a playoff setting is one that has eluded both teams. Wright-Phillips, with something to prove given his form in previous seasons in the playoffs, appears ready to welcome that challenge.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography