- Posted: 6:01 PM, October 13, 2011
“We can be everything but overconfident. After the season we had, if anybody is overconfident in this team, that would be wrong,’’ said Henry, whose 14 goals are tied for first in MLS. “We’re still in the race to qualify in the top three _ I don’t even know how, to be honest, when you look at the season _ but as we all know in the east what kind of struggle it is for anybody to win it.
“It looks like Philly is about to win it, maybe Kansas, we can maybe try to win it, cause an upset. But overall for us, if you had told me four weeks ago we (would be) battling to be second or maybe first if a miracle happened, I would have said to you “Yeah, right. See if we can grab that last spot.’ So it looks a bit better; but I wouldn’t be thinking or dreaming of being overconfident.’’
After mustering just five points in a two-month, eight-game winless skid from early July to mid-September, the Red Bulls have finally found their form. They’re 3-1-1 over their last five games _ all three victories via shutout _ to give themselves breathing room, but no guarantees. And Joel Lindpere says it wasn't tactical changes that sparked this turnaround, but an attitude adjustment.
“We know what we have to do. When the season is getting closer we have so many players and we have a strong team, everybody realizes if we don’t do it, when is the time?’’ Joel Lindpere asked rhetorically. “The whole team is realizing we’re going to keep playing, or we’re going to just go home and watch the games from TV. I think that’s the thing. We are strong enough to show we can do something.’’
With 43 points on the season with two games left to play, they sit third out of four wild cards and fourth in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference. They’re just four points behind first-place Philadelphia _ whom they host a week from today in the finale _ and two behind runnerup Sporting Kansas City, whom they face Saturday.
“It’s all up to us; a tough game on the road against Kansas. Every point is crucial. Everything in the east is so, so tight,’’ said coach Hans Backe, who future may well be tied with guiding this $13 million team into the playoffs. They sit three points ahead of Portland, the last team that sits outside the playoff picture.
“All the motivation we need is Kansas City is above us, and they’re playing good at home, so we’ve just got to be disciplined and not have any mistakes in the back,’’ Dane Richards said of Sporting KC, which played several starters for a half in last night’s oddly-scheduled friendly against CD Guadalajara.
“They played Chivas midweek, so their confidence is pumping, and then they’re going to play the Red Bulls, so hopefully we can punish them for that.’’
The Red Bulls came out of the international break healthy, and should have all their players except for the usual suspects, Chris Albright and Carl Robinson. Lindpere will NOT have to serve a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, getting a reprieve for good behavior. He is however on warning, and a card Saturday would knock him out of next Thursday’s finale vs. the Union.
Mexican star Rafa Marquez didn’t practice with the team, but will head straight from El Tri’s game against Brazil and train with the Red Bulls tomorrow in Kansas City.