November 4, 2012
THE RETURN LEG
Red Bulls expect tight match, United confident it can win on Wednesday
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With a 1-1 draw under their belts after the first leg of their aggregate goals series with D.C. United on Saturday, the Red Bulls return home to the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night.
|Thierry Henry: "It won’t be an easy one at home."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The Red Bulls lost only twice at home this season, to a pair of playoff teams -- Sporting Kansas City and Chicago Fire -- although coach Hans Backe seemed to have amnesia about one of the defeats.
“We’ve been strong at home – we just only lost one game this season against Kansas City, otherwise we’ve been winning most of the games," he said. "But I mean, it’s playoffs now and it’ll probably be almost the same type of game, very even. It can end up the same way and go to penalty or shootout, whatever it is. But it will be tight.”
Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry would not predict a victory, at least not on Saturday night.
"It won’t be an easy one at home," he said. "We will see what we can do at home.”
United coach Ben Olsen was confident of reaching the conference final against the winner of the Sporting Kansas City-Houston Dynamo semifinals series.
“I have learned that they are a beatable team," he said. "Here or there – we can beat this team and there is a great opportunity for us to go to New York and try to do that.”
Olsen felt his players would put Saturday's result in the back of their minds quite quickly.
“Players have short memories," he said. "I’m sure they are a little bit confused and upset about the result just because we did so many things well and we didn’t get the result we wanted. I think they will be fine. We will give them a day off to decompress. It’s been a long week with everything. They can spend some time with their families or by themselves, show up Monday, and we’ll get to work on New York again.”
Added D.C. midfielder Chris Pontius, who had a penalty kick saved: “The guys are ready, they’re juiced for the game on Wednesday. We just have to take care of our bodies.”
If the teams are tied after regulation on Wednesday, extratime will be played. If no one scores, penalty kicks will decide the issue.
The Red Bulls will get a slight advantage by playing at home, Backe said.
“I mean, it’s an advantage, but not as big as it is in Europe, for example," he said. "In this league, I think, whoever you play – I mean, some teams have good results at home, but still I think it will be a very even game and it is a small, small advantage, but not a big one.”
The Red Bulls were supposed to host Saturday night's but Hurricane Sandy forced the teams to flip the venues. Red Bull Arena did not have electricity in time for the first leg.
“The second leg is going to be tough, for sure," Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles said. "We are very gracious for how they accommodated our situation because naturally they lost the advantage. They had the higher seed, but we really appreciate the sportsmanship they showed. They care more about taking care of the humanity part of it, instead of forcing the issue. I know it’s unfortunate for them, but I know they are going to come back and they are going to be very hungry. In my opinion, it’s going to be a really fun game.”