Saturday's 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union ended the season on a high note. Now, we're on to the playoffs.
It was pretty much exactly what the Red Bulls needed: Three goals and three points.
The three points were exactly according to script. Beat the Philadelphia Union and secure a conference semi-final spot. Later that afternoon, D.C. United held up their end of the bargain drawing with the Chicago Fire, solidifying a second place finish for United and setting up a D.C.-New York playoff match-up.
It was exactly what a lot of Red Bulls fans wanted, but in the long run the three goals might be the more beneficial side of the equation.
The Red Bulls had 90 minutes to get hot for the playoffs and they played, almost, the exact game they needed to. The Red Bulls and their abysmal road record went down the Turnpike, scored early, scored often and kept a clean sheet. Beating up on the bottom feeding Union was exactly what they needed to build some momentum for the post-season.
After the scoreless draw against Sporting Kansas City, the team spoke about the quality of play in that game, that it gave them confidence. It's one thing to get confident without the result. That's a start, but it's not momentum. A win like Saturday gets the ball rolling.
The month-plus saw the end of the team's unbeaten home record and three points ripped right from under them against the New England Revolution. Two wins were against teams of questionable quality. The team was looking listless. Stagnant. Now they're moving in the right direction. And sometimes, that's all you need in the playoffs.