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What we know: Play-in game edition

In which we take a look at the first match of Metro Playoff Fever.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

So this is it. The Eastern Conference play-in game. Everything on the line.  Tonight's match against Sporting Kansas City is a one game season.  Win, and continue marching straight through to Washington.  Lose, and that's all she wrote.   The New York Red Bulls have made a bad habit of reaching the playoffs, but failing to get passed the Eastern Conference Semi-Final.   Last year, the Red Bulls had the benefit of skipping the play-in game, only to suffer a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Houston Dynamo, at home in Red Bull arena.  This year, New York's boys in white are forced to play the extra match.  Luckily, it too will be played at home, against a hurting SKC.

Here's what we know:

  • Kansas City is a wounded animal.
The Red Bulls seem to have figured out how to play SKC, but don't let last Sunday's win fool you, Kansas City is a good team and can still do some serious damage.   The truth is, they're playing hurt.  Their defense is suffering from both Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin playing with knocks and their midfield is weakened due to Benny Feilhaber's injury, which is keeping his participation in tonight's match a question mark.  Knocks aside, SKC just hasn't been playing like themselves, but that could all change tonight.  With their backs against the wall, you can put money on the fact that they'll be coming into Red Bull Arena ready to play.

  • BWP down with SKC.
The MLS Golden Boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips, has scored in all three matches the Red Bulls have played against Sporting this season.   He managed to hang two on them this past Sunday, grabbing New York the win and himself a spot in the history books along side Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter for number of goals in a season.  It's safe to say that BWP enjoys playing Kansas City.   With a beat up back line, look for Wright-Phillips to extent his hot streak into the post season.

  • Titi's retun.
Thierry Henry didn't travel to Kansas City with the rest of the team last Sunday.  Instead, Mike Petke thought it best to rest the team captain in order to let his aching Achilles tendons heal a bit before tonight's match.   With Henry's return comes an added threat of creativity in New York's attack that was missing on Sunday night.   SKC's defensive situation keeps looking worse and worse.   A loss tonight would also [most likely] make this Henry's final performance in Major League Soccer.   We're guessing he's going to want to make it a good one.