Impact not underestimating CCL-worn Red Bulls

The Impact’s opponent on Saturday, the New York Red Bulls, were in action on Tuesday night for the second leg of its Concacaf Champions League semi-final matchup against Club Deportivo Guadalajara, more commonly known as Chivas. After losing the first leg in Mexico 1-0, the Red Bulls returned to the Big Apple but only managed a scoreless draw against the Liga MX club, despite definitely outplaying their opponent in the second leg.

“It was unlucky that they didn’t come out with the result on Tuesday,” said midfielder Raheem Edwards. “I think they dominated Chivas. MLS is stepping up its game and starting to make Liga MX sides look normal. It’s unfortunate for them not to get the result but we have to face them now and we’re ready for the task.”

The Red Bulls managed 20 shots, nine of those being on target, on Chivas goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota, as opposed to just one shot taken by Chivas, and none on target. It’s a disappointing way to bow out of a tournament, but according to some Impact players, it might fuel the team’s performance come Saturday. 

“We’ll have to be careful,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “I’m sure they’ll be a little disgusted by how they lost in the Champions League. They might come out very strong, or maybe they’ll start the game with their heads down. In that case, it’ll be our job to take advantage of it. It’s on us to manage the game’s emotions and to play well no matter what.”

New-look Red Bulls

The Bleu-blanc-noir is all too familiar with the Red Bulls, building a rivalry with the club that reached its peak when the Impact eliminated them in the 2016 Eastern Conference semifinals. However, the team’s identity has changed as of late, getting rid of a few high profile players, most notably Dax McCarty, who was traded to Chicago in 2017, and Sacha Klejstan, traded to Orlando City SC this offseason.

“With the changes they’ve made, and the players they’ve gotten rid of, they have a different mentality than what everyone thinks,” added Piette. “They’re dynamic and they’re young. From what I saw of their games, they’re intense and they want to play. A team that presses a lot is a difficult team to play against.”

The Red Bulls are off to a good start in 2018, recording two wins and two losses in MLS so far, and a nice, if unfinished, run in the Champions League that includes wins against Olimpia and Tijuana. Whether or not they’ll be in the right place mentally to face the Impact is not something the Bleu-blanc-noir players are thinking about.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect them too much,” said midfielder Ken Krolicki. “Regardless of the result in their Champions League matchup, we all know it’s a good team. They have quality players and they were in the semi-final for a reason.”

After its game against the New York Red Bulls, the Montreal Impact will come back home for its first game at Stade Saputo, on Saturday, April 21, against Los Angeles FC. Excellent tickets are available here.