Last season the Red Bulls were in this same position in the MLS Cup Playoffs. This time around they will be on the road going to Columbus in the first leg instead of hosting it like they did against New England. But as we have seen many times from the Crew, they are not a slouch of a side and they have many dangerous players that can beat you on the dribble as well as setting up many dangerous crosses from anywhere on the field.
This is a side that is completely different than what DC United threw at them in the Conference Semi-Finals a few weeks ago. They tried to be intimidating, muscle you off the ball and when there was a chance to convert on the counter, they would take it and run away playing smash and grab.
But this time around it's going to be about playing football and this side from the capital of the state of Ohio will be active and ready to play against the supporters shield winners.
"They got some great attacking pieces. We know there are some areas that they will try to take advantage of, but from our perspective we need to take care of those guys." Said Luis Robles, "They float to get into space, they aren't ridged in the way they set up. We need to constantly survey the field because at any moment (Federico) Higuain can get to an open space and float a dangerous ball. (Ethan) Finley can get into an open channel and convert a ball, (Justin) Mearam loves to take chances from outside the area & the season that (Kei) Kamara had was very good."
The Red Bulls will have some players carrying yellow cards into this first leg in Columbus and of course the hope or the worry is that if any of them get a second it means missing the second leg at Red Bull Arena the following Sunday, will that be on the minds of the coaching staff heading to Maphre Stadium.
"We haven't talked about it too much, just because what the scenario is and how it was playing against DC." Said Jesse Marsch, "The big challenge especially for our center backs is how to play Kamara you have to be physical and the same time cautious. All four of them are aware (Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sacha Kljestan, Ronald Zubar, Matt Miazga) of the situation.
Especially Bradley Wright-Phillips being reminded about what happened in the first leg of last years Conference Finals against the New England Revolution where he picked up a silly second yellow card and got him suspended for the second leg at Gillette Stadium and didn't know it the situation in the playoffs where accumulation gets you suspended in the playoffs.
"I got to be wise and go into the game on how I can play, but it will be on the back of my mind." Said Bradley Wright-Phillips, "It was very tough (missing that second leg) but I'm going to be wiser about it now, not because I missed the game just it was a stupid card I picked up. It does haunt me, but I'll make sure I don't miss the second leg this time."
And this Red Bulls side who just had a two week break from the playoffs because of the international break, now look refreshed and ready to go. The past three days the training sessions have been hard, but with Captain Dax McCarty knows what this side needs to get to the promise land.
"Feel great physically, we had some tough sessions to regain being match fit after missing this past weekend." Said Dax McCarty, "Today was a good session and now the physical part has been taken care of, now the mental part has to take over. Sometimes the mental preparation is more important than the physical."
And now the time has finally come as the Red Bulls will be making their trip to Columbus, Ohio and take on the Crew on a National Television Broadcast on ESPN. They were in this scenario before last season, but maybe it will be a bit different as the Eastern Conference title is on the line and a big opportunity to host the MLS Cup Final at Red Bull Arena.