To say "it's that time of year" is cliché for this year's Red Bulls squad. To put it simply, it's been "that time of year" - or at least felt like it for us trophy-starved fans - for weeks. And since the Red Bulls have essentially played themselves out of controlling their own destiny, it's now time to man up and acknowledge it: It's time to start scoreboard watching.
The Red Bulls currently hold the tenth and final playoff spot by the skin of their goal differential over Portland, with the two even in games played. They remain three points behind Houston for the ninth spot and five points behind Colorado for eighth. The Red Bulls have two games in hand on both. D.C. sits at 12, is two points behind the Bulls and Portland, and has two games in hand.
The Red Bulls play host to Real Salt Lake Wednesday and Portland Saturday.
Wednesday, September 21
D.C. plays Chivas tomorrow in the swamp. D.C. is 2-2-1 in their last five and Chivas is 0-4-1 heading into the mid-week match-up. For reasons that go beyond a searing, passionate hared of D.C., the Red Bulls need Chivas to come away with three points. The Bulls will have some help with United midfielder Chris Pontius out with a fractured tibia. When they last met, Pontius tore apart Chivas, racking up three of his six assists, feeding Charlie Davies' hat trick.
In another important mid-week match, we get two teams on opposite ends of the form spectrum with Portland on a tear and San Jose looking poor. Portland is 3-1-1 in their last five and haven't lost in their last four. San Jose is 1-3-1 in their last five. Three points for the Quakes would be nice, if not unexpected, especially since Portland plays well in front of the Timbers Army, posting a 9-4-2 record at home. San Jose doesn't play well on the road, either, winning only two games on the road and losing seven.
Saturday, September 24
Real Salt Lake continues their East Coast road swing in D.C. Real Salt Lake, will, with any luck be coming off their first loss in their last four. Regardless of how RSL plays against the Red Bulls, a D.C. loss would be ideal.
Colorado plays San Jose in Colorado, Saturday, too. San Jose, as noted above, is in pretty rough shape. Just like on Wednesday, an unexpected weekend win from the Earthquakes would be great.
So there you have it. Outside of the realm of Red Bull Arena this week, the Bulls' fate (for this week, anyway) rests in the hands of a lackluster Chivas squad, a bottom-feeding Earthquakes side and a Real Salt Lake side that the South Ward has to hope comes down with a case of soccer schizophrenia.