The Red Bulls were beaten in the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs before they stepped on the field.
There is no way the front office could have known, neither could have Jesse Marsch. The players certainly didn't know, but that doesn't make it any less true. The Montreal Impact knew how they were going to beat the Red Bulls, and they were built this season to execute it.
"We knew they're a weak team in the playoffs," Ignacio Piatti, a striker for the Impact told reporters after the match. "They showed that last year, this year."
The New York Red Bulls are built on a pressing system. It is controlled chaos that works to exploit teams by catching them off guard when they turn the ball over, especially close to the opponent's goal. The Red Bulls have employed this system for two years, presenting plenty of opportunities for teams to learn how to neutralize it.