August 18, 2012
TIME TO STOCK UP
Three points vs. Portland would be good with two difficult road matches on the horizon
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Heading into a pair of road games against two difficult Eastern Conference foes, the Red Bulls are in a position to take advantage of the lowly Portland Timbers at Red Bull Arena on Sunday night (MSG, 7 p.m. ET).
The Red Bulls, who are unbeaten at home, are fighting for the conference lead while the Timbers (5-12-6, 21 points) languish at the bottom of the Western Conference with the second poorest point total of the 19 Major League Soccer teams.
But in this league of parity, any side can beat any team on any given day.
So, Red Bulls coach Hans Backe doesn't think his team, which is in second place on the strength of a 12-7-5 record and 41 points, has any great advantage, especially if it does not show up.
"I would say it doesnít matter who you play in this league," he said. "Thatís what itís all about. Every game is even. You just have to have the same attitude and spirit that we did against Houston at home. Thatís what itís all about. Then we can pick up three points. If you just slip a little bit, 10 percent, you will lose."
Newly acquired Australian international midfielder Tim Cahill is one not to take Portland lightly. He watched them play on television on Wednesday and called the Timbers a "decent team with some good players."
The Timbers played a 2-2 draw at Toronto FC, as Darlington Nagbe scored the equalizer for the visitors in the 82nd minute.
The Red Bulls have been off since Friday, Aug. 10, when they recorded a 2-0 home win over the Houston Dynamo.
"I think for us weíve had a very hard week tactically and physically," Cahill said. "A lot of the boys are coming back from injury and working on trying to stabilize what we did against Houston at home. Weíre sitting in a good position in the table, but the same discipline and consistency from the last game has to be brought into Portland, and really focus on our positives and cut out the errors. I think for us if we do that weíre a very decent team.
New York will play at Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 26 and at D.C. United three days later. After a break for World Cup qualifying, the Red Bulls will return home to host the Columbus Crew on Sept. 15.
Team captain and striker Thierry Henry, for one, would like to see the Red Bulls make life easy for themselves against the Timbers.
"When we win games at home, somehow the team that we play against is always in the game," he said. "So we have to try to make sure that we can have, for once, an easy game. We know it wonít be an easy one again, but we can make it easy. Weíll see how itís going to be, but if the attitude stays the same as it was the other day, then itís going to be a good game. Other than that Iíve been in this league a little while, and if the attitude doesnít match the attitude of the other team, then youíre in trouble."