New York Red Bulls: Five Biggest Fixtures Left on the Schedule

Ned Harwood@@RBStampedeContributor IIIJuly 18, 2012

New York Red Bulls: Five Biggest Fixtures Left on the Schedule

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    After a hard-earned win against Chicago at Red Bull Arena Wednesday afternoon, the Red Bulls got back into the discussion as a contender to finish at the top the Eastern Conference when it is all said and done.

    That achievement would be the second time the Red Bulls reached that mark in three years, and would be a massive improvement over a disappointing 2011 season.

    However, getting to the point where they can call themselves Eastern Conference regular season champions would be no easy task, as there are plenty of big games up ahead for New York.

    Here are the five biggest fixtures still left on the schedule that the Red Bulls must get results in if they want to get back to reigning the conference. Enjoy!

August 3, Away at Houston

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    This game doesn’t necessarily pop out on the schedule, but it surely is a must-win for Hans Backe and company.

    With this fixture being the first of back-to-back weekly meetings between the two teams, the Red Bulls need to get a result on the road if they want momentum heading back home. Losing this game would give the Dynamo confidence and make them even more dangerous when they travel to Red Bull Arena the following week.

    Six points in these two games would be unlikely, but a win in Houston would take some of the pressure off for the home matchup. This game makes the list for the amount of sheer momentum on the line at BBVA Compass Stadium. 

August 29, Away at DC United

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    RFK has been one of the toughest places to play all season for opposing clubs, with the only home defeat for DC United coming in Week 1 against Sporting Kansas City.

    Three points for New York on August 29th would take a tremendous effort, but I’m sure Red Bulls fans would be content with anything but a loss at the hands of their rivals. Dropping all three points to DC United at this point in the season could be absolutely detrimental to their hopes of finishing the regular season at the top of the East.

    With bragging rights and a very significant three points on the line, there is no denying that this is one of the biggest games on the schedule.

September 22, Away at New England

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    Considering the Red Bulls haven’t traveled to Foxborough and returned home with three points since 2002, a win would be a lot to ask for.

    However, good teams need to be able to go into places and win on the road when they are not expected to.

    Getting the victory would silence the doubters about New York not being able to perform in New England, on turf. It would also be a massive morale boost if tough games against DC United and two against SKC in a span of four weeks go poorly. 

October 20, Home vs. SKC

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    This is the game that very well might decide who reigns as Eastern Conference champions at the end of the regular season.

    These two teams faced each other at the same time last year and Thierry Henry was controversially red carded, resulting in a SKC win and nearly eliminating New York from the playoffs.

    While playoff berths likely won’t be on the line, pride and a chance at the #1 seed surely will. Arguably the two most talented teams in the conference will go head-to-head for the right to an easy playoff experience.

    Of course, this is a must-watch. 

October 27, Away at Philadelphia

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    The regular season stakes don’t get much bigger than this: final day of the season, at arch-rival Philadelphia, on NBC with a high playoff seed on the line and potentially the Supporters Shield.

    If you are not excited to see the craziness that this game will bring than you are not a fan of the sport.

    Any game against the Union is thought of as a must-win in the minds of Red Bulls fans, but this one has a little extra significance considering all the factors.