New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan (16) leaves the field with a bloody nose after a loss against the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena. (Bill Streicher)
New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan (16) leaves the field with a bloody nose after a loss against the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena. (Bill Streicher)

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.

2016 was supposed to be about "sophistication" for the Red Bulls. It was the talk of preseason that the team would look to add a new layer to the high press system favored by Red Bull global. Early signs showed there would be a formation shift from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-2-2-2 empty bucket, which would still utilize our wingers but allow us to bolster our attack with two strikers up front.

The team even was self-aware about what they needed to do to avenge a heart-breaking playoff loss to the Columbus Crew. The Crew a team who looked to sit back and hit the Red Bulls off the counter after scoring a fluke goal less than 20 seconds into leg one.

"We need to be able to have a "Plan B" when we play against teams," Dax McCarty told NewYorkRedBulls.com in February. "We dominated a lot of games last year playing the way that we play and the style that we play. But we saw in the playoffs that our attack became a little bit stale."

For pragmatic reasons the 4-2-2-2 never took off. The team started 1-6-0, and Gonzalo Veron, who was expected to play alongside Bradley Wright-Phillips up top, got hurt. The Red Bulls could also not replace the rock-solid center back pairing of Matt Miazga and Damien Perrinelle early in the year.

Going back to the 4-2-3-1 formation allowed the team to settle back into strengths of the 2015 Supporter's Shield winning campaign. As a result, the players used in the Red Bulls' attack have remained consistent save for the replacement of homegrown player Alex Muyl in favor of winger Lloyd Sam.

That consistency, constantly given as a strength for this team, has been used enough to show that if teams clog passing lanes in the center of the field, the Red Bulls will be forced to rely on crosses from their wingers and wingbacks to feed players in the box. This, combined with the departure of U.S. international centerback Matt Miazga, has created an incredible, easily exploited weakness.

All a team has to do is cede possession to the Red Bulls, encourage them to press higher, then employ a strong counter attack to neutralize any early lead the Red Bulls will work to get. This is, basically, the strongest aspect of the Montreal Impact's play.

Throughout the 2016 season, Sacha Kljestan was continually able to find space allowing him to feed New York's attack. The space given to him this season helped him become the first MLS player since Carlos Valderrama to dish out 20 assists in an MLS season. Wingers, Mike Grella and Alex Muyl were leaned on for their defense allowing wingbacks Connor Lade and Kemar Lawrence the capability to press high up field. The new-old formation worked and the Red Bulls went into the playoffs having not lost a game since July.

Marsch continued to tinker the 2016 team slightly, not wanting to disrupt the well re-oiled machine. Early in the year he felt comfortable switching to five defenders in the back line when holding a lead to end games. Unfortunately, this created a mindset of holding on to leads instead of pressing to add to them, leading to the Red Bulls repeatedly blowing leads late in games. Overall the Red Bulls blew 18 points throughout the season after holding leads late in the game.

One area of sophistication that seemed to work was the Red Bulls' dead ball play. On the ESPN broadcast of the final game of the year, reporters noted that the Red Bulls had a playbook of over 100 dead-ball plays. Whether or not this is accurate, it shows one area where the team successful mixed things up this year keeping opponents on their toes.

One other tactical change of not was Marsch feeling comfortable adding long-balls to the press. This eased up the Red Bulls full throttle attack, working against teams like the Philadelphia Union. Unfortunately this tactic rarely works against counterattacking teams with strong defenses.

Against Montreal, the Red Bulls executed their game plan perfectly for the first 20 minutes. Gonazlo Veron won a penalty kick, which Kljestan nearly buried if not for a fantastic save by Evan Bush. Soon after, Kljestan was knocked out of the game for 13 minutes with a bloody nose. The event was indicative of the entire strategy by the Red Bulls; they were knocked down, didn't have a "Plan B" and never recovered.

In the time when Kljestan was down, Marsch could have inserted Sean Davis into the game. It admittedly would be a risk, but Davis also brings the strength of effectively passing in traffic that no midfielder on the Red Bulls possesses. Montreal effectively neutralized Kljestan the entire series by clogging up his space and surrounding him. Davis, who shined in limited MLS minutes this year, presented an alternative that would have kept our attacking momentum alive through the center of the field, and would not have forced the Red Bulls out to the wings to attack. Instead the Red Bulls played into their perceived regular season strength and changed their approach through long balls, hampering their ability to press.

Finally, the team's glut of scoring chances in the second half should be attributed to score effects. Montreal scored early in the second half, requiring the Red Bulls to score three goals in just around 40 minutes. The Impact knew they could absorb the Red Bulls attack as long as they could, as the second the Red Bulls scored they would be inserting the best player into the game, Didier Drogba.

The instant Drogba entered the game; he forced the Red Bulls to pay attention to him instead of throwing the kitchen sink at Bush. Droga's first few touches aided dangerous counterattacks, one of which resulted in Montreal's final goal. Mauro Biello kept his trump card on the bench as long he could, holding it over the Red Bulls, and put the tie beyond questioning the second he played it.

So now, it has been two years, with one year of alleged sophistication, where the Red Bulls crashed out of the playoffs. In both final series the team was outsmarted, with the system shown to break down easier than expected. Red Bull global needs to study New York and look into why happened. Questions over the viability of the system with MLS Cup Playoffs need to be explored, including the players on the field and the manger pulling the strings.  

 

 

Tags: Bradley Wright Phillips, Connor Lade, Damien Perrinelle, Dax McCarty, Gonzalo Veron, Kemar Lawrence, Lloyd Sam, Matt Miazga, Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan, Sean Davis

Aug 18, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic (1) defends against a shot on net by the New York Red Bulls during the second half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports (Anne-Marie Sorvin)
Aug 18, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic (1) defends against a shot on net by the New York Red Bulls during the second half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports (Anne-Marie Sorvin)

Daniel Royer scored in the fifth minute to give the Red Bulls, then connected in the 90th to give New York a 2-2 with Vancouver in an MLS game Saturday in British Columbia.

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Aug 11, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence (92) defends against Chicago Fire forward Luis Solignac (9) during the first half at Bridgeview Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Aug 11, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence (92) defends against Chicago Fire forward Luis Solignac (9) during the first half at Bridgeview Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) Bradley Wright-Phillips scored and Luis Robles had his eighth shutout of the season to help the New York Red Bulls beat the Chicago Fire 1-0 on Saturday night.

Robles finished with two saves, including a leaping, acrobatic stop of an arcing shot by Nemanja Nikolic in the 71st minute.

Wright-Phillips opened the scoring in the 55th minute. Daniel Royer stole a pass from Chicago's Dax McCarty at the top corner of the area and tapped it to Wright-Phillips for the finish with the outside of his right foot. He has 15 goals this season, tied with Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the Los Angeles Galaxy for second in MLS.

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Jul 21, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) celebrates his goal against the New England Revolution during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jul 21, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) celebrates his goal against the New England Revolution during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Daniel Royer and Bradley Wright-Phillips scored to help the New York Red Bulls beat the New England Revolution 2-0 on Saturday night.

Royer tapped in Marc Rzatkowski's free kick from near the corner to open the scoring in the 69th minute. Wright-Phillips connected in the 80th for his 99th MLS goal, a header off Alejandro Romero Gamarra's diagonal pass.

The Red Bulls (12-5-2) have won five of their last six.

New England (7-7-7) has lost three in a row. >> Read more

Tags: Bradley Wright Phillips
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Jul 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; Sporting Kansas City defender Emiliano Amor (22) controls the ball in front of New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Jul 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; Sporting Kansas City defender Emiliano Amor (22) controls the ball in front of New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Marc Rzatkowski scored two goals after the 71st minute to rally the New York Red Bulls to a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night.

Rzatkowski entered as a substitute in the 60th minute for Alejandro Romero Gamarra and made it 2-all for the Red Bulls (11-5-2) with his first MLS goal - a left-footed shot from inside the penalty arc to finish Tyler Adams' pass in the 72nd. Rzatkowski settled Sean Davis' pass in the 79th and sent a rocket into the upper left corner that got through despite a deflection of goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Roger Espinoza gave Sporting KC (9-5-6) a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute with a rising blast from just beyond the right side of the area.

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New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips heads the ball against New York City FC midfielder Alexander Ring during the first half at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips heads the ball against New York City FC midfielder Alexander Ring during the first half at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

Maximiliano Moralez got the breakthrough goal in the 85th minute and New York City FC beat the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Sunday.

The Red Bulls' Aaron Long mismanaged Tyler Adams' back pass and NYCFC's Jonathan Lewis pounced on the loose ball. Lewis then sent over a cross that found its way through Long's legs to Moralez, who put it into the net with a straightforward finish.

Sean Johnson had four saves to record his sixth clean sheet of the season for City (10-4-4).

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New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch will leave the team to pursue other opportunities and assistant Chris Armas was promoted to Marsch's title, the team announced Friday.

Marsch led the Red Bulls to a 58-35-25 record in three and a half seasons and coached New York to a 10-4-2 record so far this season, second place in the Eastern Conference.

Armas, a 12-year MLS veteran who won the MLS Cup in 1998, takes over after having been on the Red Bulls' coaching staff since February 2015.

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New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence celebrates a first half goal with teammates during the MLS game between the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC at BMO Field. (Gerry Angus/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence celebrates a first half goal with teammates during the MLS game between the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC at BMO Field. (Gerry Angus/USA TODAY Sports)

Kemar Lawrence scored in the fourth minute and the New York Red Bulls made it stand in a 1-0 victory over defending MLS champion Toronto FC on Sunday.

Toronto had plenty of chances to tie it in the second half, including Sebastian Giovinco's 78th-minute penalty. But Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles was up to every challenge.

It was the first meeting between the two since Toronto dispatched the Red Bulls in an ill-tempered Eastern Conference semifinal last year.

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Jun 23, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; FC Dallas forward Roland Lamah (20) battles New York Red Bulls midfielder Florian Valot (22) for a high ball during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Jun 23, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; FC Dallas forward Roland Lamah (20) battles New York Red Bulls midfielder Florian Valot (22) for a high ball during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 11th goal of the season and the New York Red Bulls beat FC Dallas 3-0 on Saturday night, playing a man down for the final 60-plus minutes.

New York's Daniel Royer was given a straight red card in the 27th minute for a dangerous foul.

Luis Robles had a season-high six saves in his fourth shutout of the season for New York (9-4-2).

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Mar 1, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) battles Club Deportivo Olimpia midfielder Gerson Rodas (16) for the ball during first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Mar 1, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) battles Club Deportivo Olimpia midfielder Gerson Rodas (16) for the ball during first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

When the New York Red Bulls opened the 2018 season in February, they were playing in three different competitions -- the CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup and, of course, the MLS regular season.

That forced a delicate lineup balance for Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch and resulted in fixture congestion, especially of late when they played a brutal stretch of five games in 15 days.

The Red Bulls lost in the CCL semifinals to eventual champion Chivas de Guadalajara and on Saturday fell to the Philadelphia Union 2-1 in the Open Cup round of 16.

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Jun 9, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC midfielder Artur (7) plays the ball under pressure from New York Red Bulls defender Ethan Kutler (41) at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports (Greg Bartram)
Jun 9, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC midfielder Artur (7) plays the ball under pressure from New York Red Bulls defender Ethan Kutler (41) at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports (Greg Bartram)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Alex Muyl tied it with a header in the 57th minute and the New York Red Bulls held on for a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

Muyl scored for the Red Bulls (7-4-2) on Marc Rzatkowski's corner, beating backup goalkeeper Jon Kempin to the ball and heading it over the top of Kempin for the goal. Kempin replaced Crew (7-3-4) starter Zack Steffen who was on international duty for the U.S. men's national team in its friendly against France on Saturday.

Gyasi Zardes opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season in the 26th minute with a strong header to finish Harrison Afful's looping cross from the end line.

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Apr 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo (62) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Impact during second half at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls defeated Montreal Impact 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo (62) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Impact during second half at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls defeated Montreal Impact 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The New York Red Bulls can gain ground on Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference if they can return to their winning ways in Major League Soccer on Saturday.

New York (7-4-1) saw a five-game unbeaten run end with a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution last Saturday but responded with a 4-0 victory over rival New York City FC in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth-round match on Wednesday.

Even though Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch held out several regulars, he liked the approach of the team against NYCFC and thinks the outcome can build momentum heading into the match at Mapfre Stadium vs. the Crew (7-3-5).

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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

It was all Red Bulls in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, as they took down NYCFC, 4-0, on Wednesday night. 

The Red Bulls got on the board early with Vincent Bezecourt scoring his first career first-team goal in the second minute. 

CLICK BELOW TO SEE THE VIDEO!

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Jun 2, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Alex Muyl (19) battles for the ball with New England Revolution defender Antonio Delamea Mlinar (19) during the second half of New England's 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)
Jun 2, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Alex Muyl (19) battles for the ball with New England Revolution defender Antonio Delamea Mlinar (19) during the second half of New England's 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) Teal Bunbury scored his eighth goal of the season at the 78th minute off Cristian Penilla's cross to send New England past New York for a 2-1 win on Saturday.

Penilla beat his defender to the left of the goal mouth and in tight quarters and found Bunbury from close range who punched it in.

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May 12, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Serna (17) heads the ball in the second half against the New York Red Bulls of the match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)
May 12, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Serna (17) heads the ball in the second half against the New York Red Bulls of the match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)

The New England Revolution have several goals they'll try to reach Saturday night. They include getting back in the win column and shutting down high-scoring Bradley Wright-Phillips.

After two straight draws over the last week, New England looks to snap a three-game skid against Wright-Phillips and the New York Red Bulls.

The Revolution, who are playing their third game in eight days, failed to collect wins in the first two matches, but still salvaged points.

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May 26, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara (18) collides with Philadelphia Union defender Auston Trusty (26) as he makes a save during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
May 26, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara (18) collides with Philadelphia Union defender Auston Trusty (26) as he makes a save during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Goalkeeper Luis Robles was honored in a pregame ceremony for the conclusion of the longest Ironman streak in MLS history and the New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union both had their winning streaks snapped as they played to a scoreless draw Saturday night.

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New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips kicks the ball around the defense of Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips kicks the ball around the defense of Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

Bradley-Wright Phillips scored two second-half goals in the New York Red Bulls' 3-1 victory over Atlanta United on Sunday night.

New York (7-3-0) has won four in a row, outscoring its opponents 12-4 during that span.

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May 12, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Serna (17) heads the ball in the second half against the New York Red Bulls of the match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)
May 12, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Serna (17) heads the ball in the second half against the New York Red Bulls of the match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)

Two clubs in good form will clash Sunday when first-place Atlanta United hosts the surging New York Red Bulls on the quick pitch inside raucous Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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May 12, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Sam Nicholson (28) controls the ball against New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) in the first half at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)
May 12, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Sam Nicholson (28) controls the ball against New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) in the first half at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) Daniel Royer and Derrick Etienne scored to help the New York Red Bulls beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1 on Saturday night.

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Apr 21, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Amir Murillo (62) fights for a header against Chicago Fire midfielder Aleksandar Katai (10) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 21, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Amir Murillo (62) fights for a header against Chicago Fire midfielder Aleksandar Katai (10) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The last time the New York Red Bulls came to Colorado, they were treated to some wintry weather -- in spring.

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May 5, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York City FC defender Alexander Callens (6) plays the ball against New York Red Bulls midfielder Alex Muyl (19) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
May 5, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York City FC defender Alexander Callens (6) plays the ball against New York Red Bulls midfielder Alex Muyl (19) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Alejandro Romero "Kaku" Gamarra had a goal and two assists to help the New York Red Bulls dominate crosstown rival New York City FC 4-0 in the NY Derby on Saturday.

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Apr 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo (62) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Impact during second half at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls defeated Montreal Impact 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo (62) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Impact during second half at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls defeated Montreal Impact 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The first three years of the Hudson River Derby were about how different the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC were, on and off the field.

The Red Bulls were the Major League Soccer original team, a frugal squad that built from within and played at Red Bull Arena, one of the crown jewels of soccer-specific stadiums in the United States.

NYCFC is the big-spending boys from the Bronx, which play at Yankee Stadium and scour the ends of the earth looking for its talent.

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New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, front, heads the ball away from LA Galaxy defender Ashley Cole during the first half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, April 28, 2018 in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) (Chris Carlson/AP)
New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, front, heads the ball away from LA Galaxy defender Ashley Cole during the first half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, April 28, 2018 in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) (Chris Carlson/AP)

CARSON, Calif. (AP) - Alejandro Romero Gamarra scored a late goal and Bradley Wright-Phillips had two assists to help the New York Red Bulls beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-2 on Saturday night.

Tags: Bradley Wright Phillips
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Apr 21, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Amir Murillo (62) fights for a header against Chicago Fire midfielder Aleksandar Katai (10) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 21, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Amir Murillo (62) fights for a header against Chicago Fire midfielder Aleksandar Katai (10) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Aleksandar Katai and Nemanja Nikolic scored and Richard Sanchez had a career-high nine saves to help the Chicago Fire beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 on Saturday.

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Apr 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo (62) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Impact during second half at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls defeated Montreal Impact 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo (62) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Impact during second half at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls defeated Montreal Impact 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

With or without fans in the stands, the New York Red Bulls are enjoying some home cooking at Red Bull Arena this year.

Traditionally, the club has been tough to beat in Harrison, N.J., where they are 84-20-30 since the building opened in 2010.

This season, though, they've amped up the intensity at home.

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Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) plays the ball against Montreal's Victor Cabrera during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) plays the ball against Montreal's Victor Cabrera during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Alejandro Romero-Gamarra scored in the 57th minute to break a tie and Michael Mrrillo added an insurance goal 19 minutes later as the New York Red Bulls defeated Montreal 2-1 in an MLS match Saturday at Red Bull Arena.

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Apr 10, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Aaron Long (33) chases the ball against Guadalajara during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Apr 10, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Aaron Long (33) chases the ball against Guadalajara during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Chivas of Guadalajara advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League final, playing to a 0-0 tie at the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday night for a 1-0 aggregate victory.

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Mar 24, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne (7) controls the ball against Minnesota United midfielder Ibson (7) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 24, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne (7) controls the ball against Minnesota United midfielder Ibson (7) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The bye week means different things for different Major League Soccer teams. For some, it's an unwanted break from a good rhythm.

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(AP)
(AP)

The New York Red Bulls lost to Chivas, 1-0, on Wednesday night in Estadio Akron in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal.

Chivas' Isaac Brizuela scored the match's lone goal in the 26th minute off an assist from Rodolfo Pizarro. Red Bulls goalie Luis Robles made two saves on the evening.

The Red Bulls were down to 10 men down the stretch after Aurelien Collin received his second yellow card in the 73rd minute. Collin and Alex Muyl each picked up a yellow card in the first half. 

The second leg between the Red Bulls and Chivas will be April 10 in Harrison, N.J.

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Mar 17, 2018; Sandy, UT, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Marc Rzatkowski (90) plays the ball against Real Salt Lake midfielder Demar Phillips (17) during the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports (Rob Gray)
Mar 17, 2018; Sandy, UT, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Marc Rzatkowski (90) plays the ball against Real Salt Lake midfielder Demar Phillips (17) during the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports (Rob Gray)

Saddled with a winless streak that dates back to last season, Orlando City SC is eager to come away with its first win of the year, and Sacha Kljestan wants to be a part of it.

Kljestan and the Lions play host to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon.

Orlando City (0-2-1) returns to the pitch for the first time since a 2-0 loss to New York City FC on March 17. The Lions are ninth in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the Chicago Fire and defending MLS Cup champion and Supporters' Shield winner Toronto FC.

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Mar 24, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne (7) controls the ball against Minnesota United midfielder Ibson (7) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 24, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne (7) controls the ball against Minnesota United midfielder Ibson (7) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Bradley Wright-Phillips had two goals and Alex Muyl added another to help the New York Red Bulls beat Minnesota United 3-0 on Saturday night.

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Mar 10, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Ben Mines (17) controls the ball against Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri (8) during the first half against the Portland Timbers at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Mar 10, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Ben Mines (17) controls the ball against Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri (8) during the first half against the Portland Timbers at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

The start of the 2018 season for the New York Red Bulls has been practically perfect.

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Mar 17, 2018; Sandy, UT, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Marc Rzatkowski (90) plays the ball against Real Salt Lake midfielder Demar Phillips (17) during the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports (Rob Gray)
Mar 17, 2018; Sandy, UT, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Marc Rzatkowski (90) plays the ball against Real Salt Lake midfielder Demar Phillips (17) during the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports (Rob Gray)

SANDY, Utah (AP) Albert Rusnak scored on a penalty kick in the opening minutes and Nick Rimando had his MLS-leading 138th career shutout to help Real Salt Lake beat the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Saturday night in the snow.

 

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Mar 1, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) battles Club Deportivo Olimpia midfielder Gerson Rodas (16) for the ball during first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Mar 1, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) battles Club Deportivo Olimpia midfielder Gerson Rodas (16) for the ball during first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Just two games into the season, Real Salt Lake is already scrambling to keep things from spiraling out of control on defense.

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Mar 10, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Ben Mines (17) controls the ball against Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri (8) during the first half against the Portland Timbers at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Mar 10, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Ben Mines (17) controls the ball against Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri (8) during the first half against the Portland Timbers at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Carlos Rivas scored two goals and the New York Red Bulls opened their MLS season with a 4-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.

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Mar 1, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) and Club Deportivo Olimpia forward Carlos Costly (13) battle for the ball during second 
		 half at Red Bull Arena. 
		Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Mar 1, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) and Club Deportivo Olimpia forward Carlos Costly (13) battle for the ball during second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The 2018 Major League Soccer opener for Luis Robles feels a little strange.

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Mar 1, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) battles Club Deportivo Olimpia midfielder Gerson Rodas (16) for the ball during first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Mar 1, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) battles Club Deportivo Olimpia midfielder Gerson Rodas (16) for the ball during first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The New York Red Bulls beat Olimpia 2-0 on Thursday night in Red Bull Arena to advance, 3-1, on aggregate in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the opening goal in the 54th minute and Sean Davis made it 2-0 for the Red Bulls 10 minutes later.

The Red Bulls will face Tijuana in the quarterfinals, with the first leg on March 6.

They open their MLS season at home against the Portland Timbers on March 10.

Tags: Bradley Wright Phillips, Sean Davis
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New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles throws the ball into play during first half play against Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinal at BMO Field. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles throws the ball into play during first half play against Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinal at BMO Field. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

Toronto FC lost 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls in an abrasive game Sunday and still advanced to the MLS Eastern Conference final on away goals after the two-leg series ended tied 2-2 on goals aggregate.

It was a feisty affair that saw Toronto striker Jozy Altidore and Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan sent off after a tunnel melee at halftime.

League-leading Toronto will be without star striker Sebastian Giovinco for the next game after his second yellow in two games. TFC will play the Columbus Crew SC or New York City FC in the Conference final.

Tags: Bradley Wright Phillips, Toronto FC
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Oct 30, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence (92) defends against Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco (10) during second half in the Eastern Conference semifinal at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Oct 30, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence (92) defends against Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco (10) during second half in the Eastern Conference semifinal at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Toronto FC enters the second leg of its Eastern Conference semifinal trying not to take a spot in the finals for granted after a 2-1 away win in the first leg.

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Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley defends New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer in the Eastern Conference semifinal at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley defends New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer in the Eastern Conference semifinal at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Victor Vazquez and Sebastian Giovinco scored to help Toronto FC beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 on Monday night in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Giovinco drew a foul conceded by Felipe Martins just outside the box and then bent the free kick over a four-man wall to make it 2-1 in the 72nd minute.

The second of the two-game aggregate series is Sunday in Toronto. >> Read more

Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press

Tags: Toronto FC
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The New York Red Bulls huddle after their victory after an Eastern Conference knockout round soccer game against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)
The New York Red Bulls huddle after their victory after an Eastern Conference knockout round soccer game against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

Toronto FC begins the MLS Cup playoffs as one of the favorites after a season in which it set a league record with 69 points.

In the Eastern Conference semifinals, Toronto face a New York Red Bulls team that knows how precarious that position can be.

The Red Bulls came into the playoffs as the top team in the East in 2015 and 2016, only to fail to reach the MLS Cup final in both seasons. >> Read more

Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press

Tags: Toronto FC
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New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan (16) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Fire during the first half at Toyota Park. (Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan (16) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Fire during the first half at Toyota Park. (Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan scored four minutes apart early in the first half, and the New York Red Bulls cruised by the Chicago Fire 4-0 on Wednesday night in a knockout-round game.

New York (15-12-8), in its eighth straight playoffs, advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals against Supporters Shield winner Toronto FC.

Tags: Chicago Fire
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New York Red Bulls midfielder Alex Muyl controls the ball as D.C. United forward Paul Arriola looks on during the first half at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Red Bulls midfielder Alex Muyl controls the ball as D.C. United forward Paul Arriola looks on during the first half at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

Gonzalo Veron and Michael Murillo scored minutes apart and the New York Red Bulls beat rival D.C. United 2-1 on Sunday for the Atlantic Cup in the final MLS game at RFK Stadium.

United is set to play home games next season at the new Audi Field, located three miles southwest of RFK.

New York (14-12-8), which last won at RFK in 2013, will be the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and play at third-seeded Chicago in the Knockout round. >> Read more

Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press

Tags: D.C. United
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Sep 23, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; View of sign showing one game left at RFK stadium for the D.C. United during the second half at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
Sep 23, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; View of sign showing one game left at RFK stadium for the D.C. United during the second half at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

D.C. United bids farewell to the focal point of a world of soccer memories in the United States as it plays at RFK Stadium for the final time against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.

 

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Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Leandro Gonzalez defend against a direct kick by the New York Red Bulls during first half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Leandro Gonzalez defend against a direct kick by the New York Red Bulls during first half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

Brad Guzan and Luis Robles each made three saves, and Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls, both playoff bound, battled to a 3-3 draw on Sunday. >> Read more

Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press

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Sep 17, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) races for the ball against Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Sep 17, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) races for the ball against Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Atlanta United take aim at the No. 2 overall seed in the Eastern Conference when the surprising expansion franchise hits the road to take on the New York Red Bulls, who also are headed to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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Oct 7, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps with forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Oct 7, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps with forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) Daniel Royer, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Felipe scored and the New York Red Bulls clinched the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.

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New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) yells at a teammate during the at half at an MLS game against the Toronto FC at BMO Field. (Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) yells at a teammate during the at half at an MLS game against the Toronto FC at BMO Field. (Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)

The Vancouver Whitecaps hope they can become the next Canadian team to make history with help from the New York Red Bulls.

The Whitecaps (15-10-6) aim to clinch the top spot in Major League Soccer's Western Conference for the first time on Saturday as they visit the Red Bulls (12-12-7), who are fighting for a playoff berth.

Tags: Vancouver Whitecaps FC
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Sep 30, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) battles for the ball against New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) during the second half at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Sousa)
Sep 30, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) battles for the ball against New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) during the second half at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Sousa)

ORONTO (AP) -- Victor Vazquez broke a tie in the 80th minute on a penalty kick and Toronto FC became the first Canadian team to win the Supporters' Shield as the MLS regular-season champion, beating the New York Red Bulls 4-2 on Saturday night.

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Sep 17, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) races for the ball against Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Sep 17, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (4) races for the ball against Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Despite suffering consecutive losses for the first time this season, Toronto FC can wrap the Supporters' Shield and the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket on Saturday with a home win against the struggling New York Red Bulls.

Toronto has enjoyed the full week to regroup from losses to New England and Montreal, the two teams chasing the Red Bulls for the conference's sixth and final playoff spot. 

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