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October 27, 2012
Red Bulls earn 2nd straight shutout, avoid knockout-round game

Hans Backe: "Iím just happy that we avoid Kansas and that we avoid playing a wildcard game."
Hans Backe: "Iím just happy that we avoid Kansas and that we avoid playing a wildcard game."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHESTER, Pa. -- That collective sigh of relief you heard from this neck of the woods came from the Red Bulls.

After registering a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union to secure third place in the Eastern Conference, the Red Bulls not only avoided playing a mid-week MLS playoff game, they will avoid Sporting Kansas City, at least until the conference finals. Of course, both teams have to advance to that game. Sporting, of course, is among Major League Soccer's elite teams and no team in the conference wants to play that side that early in the playoffs.

But first things, first for the Red Bulls, who will play second-place D.C. United in the conference semifinals in a home-and-away, aggregate goals series beginning next weekend.

"Iím just happy that we avoid Kansas and that we avoid playing a wildcard game," Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said. "I think it doesnít matter who we play, Chicago or D.C."

Backe was talking before D.C. played the Chicago Fire to a 1-1 later on Saturday.

Needless to say, Backe was elated the Red Bulls won on the road for the first time in five months -- since a 2-1 triumph at the Montreal Impact on May 19. He also was quite happy that the Red Bulls recorded shutouts in back-to-back games, a feat they hadn't accomplished in more than three months (1-0 win over Chicago on July 18 and 2-0 victory over Philadelphia on July 21).

He likes that momentum entering the post-season.

ďI think the last two games, we played great games and now we have two clean sheets in a row going into the playoffs," Backe said. "I mean, scoring three away, everyone else had great difficulty and itís tough every time in the MLS. Itís massive for us, avoiding the mid-week game and that means a lot.Ē

New York finished the regular season on a high note.

ďIt looks we started putting things together the right way going into the playoffs," Backe said. "You never know, but the last two games, it looks better than before.

"Itís been great. We just said today, the whole environment, itís so much relaxed after the cancelled game. I think it was more of a relief in this week, but it seems our team seems happy now. The whole environment is much better.Ē

The win was only the fifth Red Bulls road victory. They finished the season 5-7-5 on the road.

ďYou need to win on the road," Backe said. "Thatís a great a win. Confidence-wise, winning away means a lot and we have had so many tough games here against Philly. So I think everybody else is happy now that we are avoiding the mid-week game.Ē
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