Columbus, OH – Red Bull New York will be aiming to maintain its position at the top of the Eastern Conference on Saturday when the club heads to Crew Stadium to take on the Columbus Crew.
New York earned an impressive 3-2 road victory over Sporting Kansas City last weekend to improve to 38 points from 23 games, bringing the Red Bulls two points clear of second-place Sporting.
What made the win even sweeter for New York was the fact that the club has struggled in recent meetings with Sporting.
"It was great. We haven't beaten them in a very long time and they are a very good team," Thierry Henry said after the match. "But it's only three points. We're still fighting to try to win the conference. It's a great win because we usually don't beat them, so that was special."
The Red Bulls will not have the same daunting task hanging over them when they face the Crew on Saturday. New York has already taken four points from its two previous matches against Columbus this season, one of which was a 1-0 victory at Crew Stadium on May 4.
The recent outcomes of meetings between the two clubs certainly bode well for New York, and with the Red Bulls entering the contest with a 15-point lead over the Crew, it would seem as if the visitors look poised to claim a positive result to extend their unbeaten run to five games.
But with such parity in MLS, the possibility of a trap game always exists, and midfielder Jonny Steele has urged his team to play with greater consistency, especially against teams in the bottom-half of the table.
"Now we've just got to stay consistent," Steele said following New York's defeat of Sporting. "This is the run-in to the playoffs. And we know that if we get into the playoffs it's going to be challenging. It was good to put this game together, but we've got to keep doing what we're doing and pick up the results against the big teams. Sometimes we lose to teams we shouldn't, so we've got to pick up the consistency."
Things have not gone quite as well for the Crew, who suffered a 3-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo last weekend. It was the club's third straight defeat and their sixth of their last seven league outings.
"I think we just got to get our heads up," Crew striker Ryan Finley said after the loss. "I mean it's definitely not a work ethic thing at practice or anything like that. I think you just get unlucky sometimes in this sport. The most important thing is we got to stay positive, we got to stay strong in the locker room. Things will turn around eventually, so I'm pretty sure of that."
Dominic Oduro built upon Finley's sentiments by expressing Columbus' need for the team to fight together.
"We just have to come out as a team right now," said Oduro. "We have to stick together. We really have to work as a team. That's the only way that's going to work. We got to go back again and regroup. We can't do it as individuals. But everybody out there, we just have to work as a team and hopefully it will work."