- Posted: 3:10 PM, October 22, 2011
Now that the Red Bulls have earned their way into the MLS playoffs, they’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to learn their foe. And while U.S. athletes stick to clichés about not caring who they play, the Red Bulls’ European vets openly admit they’d rather play at FC Dallas than Real Salt Lake or defending champion Colorado.
“I hope now we get a good team. I think Dallas is better for us than Colorado or Salt Lake. We will see on the weekend what happens and be prepare well,’’ said keeper Frank Rost. “We have one match away and if we win this match, then everything is possible. The last years I think the teams that came late in the playoffs, they won the MLS Cup; maybe this year we are the team.’’
Rost _ born in East Germany and a veteran of 18 years in the Bundesliga _ has always spoken his mind and never hidden behind coachspeak. Maybe he hasn’t gone to the Crash Davis school of clichés, and he probably couldn’t regurgitate one if he tried. But the results show the Red Bulls are more suited to face FC Dallas than the Rapids or Real Salt Lake, the last two MLS Cup champs.
“In my opinion, in this league the two strongest teams at home are Salt Lake and Colorado. That’s my opinion of this league. They are the best team in my vision at home, so if there is any option, I would play Dallas,’’ said Estonian midfielder Joel Lindpere. “But it doesn’t matter. I think everybody is ready to start.’’
That option doesn’t belong to the Red Bulls, but to the randomness of fate. They’ll play a single game Wednesday or Thursday on the road at a Western Conference foe that will ultimately be decided by tomorrow’s 7 p.m. tilt between Houston and Supporters’ Shield-winning Galaxy.
If Houston loses, the Red Bulls would finish as the 3rd wild card and play at No. 2 wild-card Colorado. But if the Dynamo win or tie, the Red Bulls would drop to the fourth wild card and face the No. 1 wild card. That could be either Dallas or Real Salt Lake, to be decided by tonight’s 9 p.m. Salt Lake-Portland game and 10:30 p.m. San Jose-Dallas tilt.
Real Salt Lake and Dallas are tied on 52 points, but the 2009 champs own the tiebreaker so they sit as the third seed in the West and Dallas is the top wild-card. The Red Bulls would play whichever team ends up as the wild card, and they’re hoping its Dallas _ for very tangible reasons.
They lost 4-1 at altitude in Colorado back on July 20, with the Rapids 6-2-9 at home. They got hammered 3-0 at Real Salt Lake on Aug. 6., with Salt Lake 10-3-3 at Rio Tinto. As a matter of fact, the Red Bulls are on a five-game winless skid against Real Salt Lake, outscored 9-1 and simply unable to get possession against their diamond midfield.
But the Red Bulls won 1-0 at Dallas on Sept. 17, handing Dallas one of five league losses at home despite playing without Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Roy Miller and Jan Gunnar Solli. And Dallas is in a horrible run of form, coming off a 3-0 loss to Toronto FC on Tuesday in the CONCACAF Champions League, 2-7-1 in their last ten games in all competitions and outscored 17-7.