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November 4, 2013
McCarty: road tie is good, but Red Bulls can't take home win for granted, especially after last year

Dax McCarty: "You can't take these games for granted. You go down in the first leg on the road and get a draw, you can't come back here expecting to win."
Dax McCarty: "You can't take these games for granted. You go down in the first leg on the road and get a draw, you can't come back here expecting to win."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis Editor

HARRISON, N.J. -- After playing their opponents to a draw on the road in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Red Bulls return home to Red Bull Arena for a mid-week matchup in their quest for MLS Cup.

Does that sound familiar?

It should.

That was the scenario they faced last season against D.C. United, before losing to their rivals from the nation's capital in the home encounter.

And as it turns out, that is the same scenario they face the Houston Dynamo here on Wednesday in the second leg of the aggregate-goals series at 8 p.m. (MSG).

Central midfielder Dax McCarty said he hoped the team had learned from that playoff defeat.

"That's something that we definitely learned from," he said after training at RBA Monday afternoon. "You can't take these games for granted. You go down in the first leg on the road and get a draw, you can't come back here expecting to win. You know what happened last year. We didn't win. That's something we learned from. We're not cocky. We're not overconfident.

"We respect the Dynamo, we respect our opponents because they’re a very good team. They have proven throughout the past couple of years in the playoffs that they're a team that gets it done in the playoffss. It's a big opportunity for us. I know we've learned from that, that that experience last year in the playoffs. We're not going to make the same mistakes we made a year ago."

The Red Bulls have haunted by red cards in the playoffs the last two season.

Last year, they lost Mexican international Rafa Marquez to a red card in the 75th minute in the second leg, a 1-0 loss to United.

On Sunday, central defender Jamison Olave was red-carded in the 65th minute, forcing New York to play the rest of the game a man down. He will sit out Wednesday's confrontation.

McCarty hoped that the Red Bulls won't continue to repeat history in two days’ time.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to keep all 11 guys on the field," he said. "That's something that kind of have been a trend for us in the playoffs is losing and going down a man. We have to be smarter. We can't make those mental mistakes that kind of put us in a hole early. We'll be better about it.:

Well, not everyone agreed with McCarty.

"It's not last year," head coach Mike Petke said. "It's a completely different team. It's a completely differently year. We have a one-off game at home on Wednesday. We have professional players on the field that are mature, professional. They have good mentality and we haven't lost since August. So obviously they have been doing something right, both on the field and as well as mentality getting ready for games. It's all about getting their bodies back together and getting out there Wednesday night."

McCarty felt the Red Bulls were going to be bounce back.

"You have to refocus," he said. "It feels more like a loss because of the way the game ended, but the reality of the situation is that we got a good result on the road in a very tough place to play. We said before the series that the games we had played in Houston in the regular season, they didn't matter, and it's true. Houston's a different team in the playoffs.

"We started the game really brightly. We had control of the game. We make some very critical mistakes in the second half and we shoot ourselves in the foot a little bit. That's been uncharacteristic of this team. You have to dust yourself off, you have to regroup and focus on the positives. You know you are at home and you are in front of your fans and that's what makes you want to play this game and that's what makes you want to advance because you fans are your 12th man and they're looking to push you on."
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