The New York Red Bulls struggled on the road once more, giving Montreal the tools to make an “impact.”
The top-seeded team was expected to breeze by the fifth-seeded Montreal Impact in the first leg of their semifinals matchup, but they lost 1-0. Their season-long woes away from home (3-7-7 on the road) continued.
There is a lot at stake for the club, which has been in MLS since its inception but has never won a title. The second leg at Red Bull Arena is a must win for the Red Bulls, and here are three keys that can help them advance to the conference championships.
Stay on target
The Red Bulls were held scoreless last week in MLS play for the first time since July. They were outshot, 11-9, and only had three shots on goal – two from leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The Harrison, New Jersey-based club had a healthy advantage when it came to possessing the ball last Sunday. MVP finalist and MLS assists leader Sacha Kljestan must lead the team to use their time wisely and create more chances to score if they want to move on.
Montreal won at home Sunday despite the absense of top striker Didier Drogba. The 38-year-old missed the last five games due to back pains, but the plan is for him to come on as a sub this weekend.
Drogba’s limited time on the pitch in the second-leg can only help the Red Bulls, who must overcome a 1-0 aggregate deficit this weekend.
The Red Bulls controlled the ball well against the Impact, making 75% of their passes and recording 543 to Montreal’s 308.
The club picked up the pace after giving up a second half goal, but time was not on the Red Bulls’ side. Expect New York to attack early in the second-leg.