All that matters is the Red Bulls have a home game

Mike Stobe

While there's a lot of controversy on who plays when and where, the important part is that the Red Bulls do get to come home.

While the entire New York area is still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, its easy to forget there's a soccer game of some import tomorrow. But there is, in fact, a soccer game of some import tomorrow, when the Red Bulls head south for their conference semi-final match-up with D.C. United.

What was already expected to be a heated series -- the regular season series between the rivals ended rather chippy -- has had some fuel thrown on the fire. The games have been switched, with United losing out on their higher-seed second-game advantage (earned by finishing one point above a team they "split" the season series with 1-1-1). Tomorrow, instead of playing in power-less Red Bull Arena, the Bulls will head south to RFK Stadium.

The switch has angered some D.C. fans, and while most MLS coaches want the second leg at home, most see it as [a "slight" advantage at best. Oh, and the advantage is statistically negligible.

But it's times like these, where home field advantage is at the forefront, where it's a good idea to take a refresher course on the Red Bulls' home and away performance.

It's no secret the Red Bulls aren't the best road team. They went 16-9-9 over the course of the season, but 11 of those wins came at home, along with two losses and four draws. On the road, the Red Bulls went an iffy 5-7-5.

But the real contrast comes in goals for and against.

Over the course of 2012, the Red Bulls scored 57 goals and gave up 46. The goals for figure is good for third best in the league, behind the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy. The goal against number is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. They've given up more goals than every playoff team save the Galaxy.

The home/road split is even more stark. Inside Red Bull Arena the team has netted 34 goals, while only giving up 16. On the road, the Red Bulls get killed, scoring only 23 and giving up 30.

To say the Red Bulls aren't a great road team is an understatement. An to say the Red Bulls dominate at home is another understatement.

This doesn't quite solve the question which game you want at home -- if it matters at all. What it does say is that you want a game at home. Which the Red Bulls get thanks to the two-legged format. Should they get through D.C., they have another game at home, as the conference finals are two-legged affairs this year. Should they get through that (as much as I'd hate to get ahead of myself), they would get home field advantage over every team in the west, except the Earthquakes.

All of this, even without the second leg "advantage," is advantageous to the Jekyll-and-Hyde home-and-road Red Bulls.

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