In a season full of "must-win" games, the New York Red Bulls will compete in actual win-or-go-home soccer as they travel to face FC Dallas on Wednesday night at 9 PM EST.
As the lowest wild card seed, the Red Bulls actually got somewhat of a favorable draw considering Dallas has been struggling since late August, falling way out of contention for the Supporter's Shield and getting eliminated in the CONCACAF Champions League at home in a 3-0 thrashing by MLS powerhouse Toronto FC.
Make no mistake, FC Dallas has one of the most talented rosters in Major League Soccer, and they were near the top of the standings for much of the season for a reason. Even if New York is able to pull off a win on the road, however, their path to MLS Cup doesn't get any easier.
If the Red Bulls beat Dallas, New York would return home for the first of a home-and-away series against the winner of this year's Supporters' Shield, the L.A. Galaxy. If the Red Bulls pull off an upset against Los Angeles, they would then travel to Seattle or Real Salt Lake, neither known to be places that away teams do particularly well playing at. Finally, New York would travel back to L.A. to play the winner of the Eastern Conference side of the bracket in the MLS Cup final at the Home Depot Center.
After making comments that he would least like to travel to take on the Colorado Rapids, Jan Gunnar Solli should be relieved that the chances of New York facing Colorado are slim - if the Rapids beat the Columbus Crew in their play-in match, Colorado would take on Sporting Kansas City and the winner of Houston/Philadelphia if they continued to advance. The only way New York could face the defending champion Rapids again this season is in the MLS Cup final which will be held at the Home Depot Center.
How far can the Red Bulls go this postseason? Are you as relieved as DJ Solli that there isn't a trip to Colorado again until 2012?