Avoiding Loss In First Leg Is Vital To Red Bulls’ Cup Hopes

Chris Armas

Did you enjoy winning the Supporters’ Shield? I know I did.

But now that the regular season is over, and it’s time to get down to serious business – that business being winning the REAL Major League Soccer championship: The MLS Cup.

I’m not going to waste too much of your time pointing to the many “TSM” moments, but I will point out a disturbing trend that the Red Bulls need to either buck or avoid entirely in pursuit of the club’s first cup.

Avoiding Loss In First Leg Is Vital To Red Bulls’ Cup Hopes

Plenty of soccer clubs have found ways to bounce back from a loss in the first leg of a two-leg series and advance to the next round of their tournament.

The Red Bulls are not one of them.

In nine previous instances where the Red Bulls have lost the first leg of a series, the team has been eliminated in the second leg – regardless of whether the second result was a win, loss, or draw.

Earlier this year, during the CONCACAF Champions League Semi-Finals, Chivas de Guadalajara won at home 1-0, and then bunkered down and held the Red Bulls scoreless to advance to the Finals.

In last year’s edition of the MLS Cup Playoffs, Toronto FC beat the Red Bulls 2-1 at Red Bull Arena and were then able to hold off the team at BMO Field to advance to the Conference Finals.

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Ultimately, while a win or a draw in the first leg is by no means a guarantee that the Red Bulls will advance to the next round in a tournament, history indicates that a loss is an absolute-bet-the-farm-guarantee that the Red Bulls will be eliminated in the second leg.

For the Red Bulls to win the MLS Cup, they will need to play two more road games. Given that five of the team’s seven losses in 2018 came on the road, this is a big ask. However, as historically good as the Red Bulls have been at home, it’s on the road where they’ll need to truly make history.

Photo by Bill Twomey Photography

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