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Red Bulls looking forward to next step after eliminating D.C. United for first time


Photo by Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports



WASHINGTON — Despite Saturday’s 2-1 loss at the hands of D.C. United, it was hard not to feel the excitement building in the New York Red Bulls locker room.

Defender Ambroise Oyongo let out dozens of audible “Let’s go Red Bulls” chants. Multiple players called for music to be played. Even the ever-stoic Thierry Henry let out a smile or two.

There was plenty to smile about for the Red Bulls, who knocked out rival D.C. United by a 3-2 aggregate scoreline with Saturday’s result at RFK Stadium. For many, it was a new level of excitement that hadn’t been reached since the club’s 2008 MLS Cup Final appearance, but for head coach Mike Petke, Saturday’s effort offered a chance to finally exhale.

“It was a release,” Petke said after the game. “I’ll be honest with you, this was one of the toughest days, if not the toughest day that I’ve had in my time as a head coach. It was just these weird feelings today. I know my guys were up for it. I know we’re a better team on paper than D.C., but D.C. obviously earned the right to be the number one seed in the east because of what they did throughout the season. It was a huge release when we scored, huge.”

Saturday’s result saw the Red Bulls advance past D.C. United for the first time in club history. Petke, who played for both clubs during his MLS career, pointed to how nice it was to get that curse off the teams back as the Red Bulls advance to the next round.

“It creeped in my head as soon as we won to realize that this was the first time that we ever beat them in our history in a playoff series,” Petke said. “That’s a great accomplishment. It’s another ghost to put back in the closet.”

“It feels great, not only to go through to the next round but to knock out your biggest rivals and a team that we certainly don’t want winning anything,” added midfielder Dax McCarty. “T0 knock them out feels tremendous, but we haven’t accomplished anything yet. ”

Petke’s and McCarty’s sentiments were echoed by captain Thierry Henry, who has seen his side crash out of the playoffs unceremoniously since joining the team in 2010. Henry, who assisted Peguy Luyindula’s game-winning-goal, admitted that Saturday was a major accomplishment, but one that had to be put in perspective.

“This one goes to the fans because I’m sure they had enough of losing against D.C.,” Henry said. “On a personal point of view, and I’m sure the same with (the fans), we haven’t done anything yet. You want to go all the way. 

“It will go down in history that it was the first time we beat D.C. in the playoffs, but that’s it. You have to go forward and try to concentrate, stay committed on what’s coming next.”

What’s next for the Red Bulls is a trip to the Eastern Conference finals, where they will matchup with either the New England Revolution or Columbus Crew. With D.C. United in the rearview mirror, the team can now look towards achieving another first in the club’s history: an MLS Cup.

“We’re happy that we’re going through, but we’re not satisfied,” McCarty said. “I think we have a lot more to accomplish with this team. When you get this far in the season and your team is still playing, nothing less than a championship will do.

“We have our sights set on the MLS Cup, although we’re not looking past the next round because obviously whoever we play, Columbus or New England is going to be a tough game, but the difference this year is our mentality. We’re going to be very, very hard to beat.”


What do you make of the Red Bulls advancing? How impressed were you with the Red Bulls performance?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Exciting game and great result for Red Bulls!

    I was a beautiful day at RFK. The field was in good shape and the supporters (both clubs) made for an great atmosphere.

    Once again,…a moment of Henry brilliance was the difference. He doesn’t have Keane or Schelloto’s MLS trophy count but man,…can he turn a game on its head!

    Kudos to Mike Petke! Red Bulls have slated three dragons under his guidance,…Supporters Shield, 1st playoff home win at RBA and a playoff victory against DCU!

    Cannot wait for New England at RBA!

  2. henry in the picture is saying, “that was some good stuff.” (as in drugs) 😉
    i guess revolution vs. sounders or galaxy.

      • Whatever you want to call it, the question remains: will Henry play on it? I don’t believe he’s ever played on NE’s green carpet.

      • Its not what I want to call it, they’re two different things. Henry will probably play he doesn’t really have anything to preserve himself for at this point, its either his last year or he at least has a whole 4 months off to recover. However, they play at RedBull arena first so it will probably depend on what the aggregate looks like going into the Gillette game. If the Redbulls win by multiple goals they could leave Henry on the bench and park the bus in Boston.

      • We can be certain he won’t play on astro turf because neither team has astro turf in their stadium. Actually, there isn’t a stadium in north america with astro turf.

      • not a professional stadium. I mean I suppose you can call anything a stadium and somewhere there is a field that hasn’t been renovated. But not even high school kids will play on that crap.

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