MLS Playoffs: Why the Red Bulls Win Can Push New York to Its First MLS Cup

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MLS Playoffs: Why the Red Bulls Win Can Push New York to Its First MLS Cup
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Last night, the New York Red Bulls defeated last year's MLS Cup runner-up FC Dallas 2-0 to advance into the next round of the MLS playoffs.

The Red Bulls were able to put together a strong second half to win the match, with Joel Lindpere getting an early second half goal and Thierry Henry put the match away with a late stoppage time tally.

With this win, the Red Bulls will now face the MLS Community Shield winner, the Los Angeles Galaxy.

There are many people who didn't think the Red Bulls were going to advance into the playoffs just a week ago. The Red Bulls of course were barely able to reach the playoffs due to an important win over the Philadelphia Union in the last match of the regular season.

But once they entered the playoffs, they immediately became a dark horse favorite by many to reach deep in the playoffs.

Now that the Red Bulls have cleared their first hurdle, many fans and observers can now see the Red Bulls make a deep run or even win their first MLS Cup.

The first step in that run will come in the form of the Galaxy. The Galaxy were the best side in MLS this season and they deserve to be the top seed in the playoffs.

However, the recent history for the Galaxy is not in their favor. Already this season, the Galaxy drew at one with New York at the Home Depot Center before the Red Bulls won 2-0 in Harrison earlier this month.

It also doesn't help to see that the Galaxy have not been able to win an MLS Cup since David Beckham joined the side back in 2007.

Andy Marlin/Getty Images
This Thierry Henry goal against the Galaxy earlier this month secured a crucial win for the Red Bulls

 

Meanwhile, the Red Bulls history as the last seed in the Western Conference (where they are in these playoffs due to their seeding allocation) is pretty strong.

It was only three years ago when the Red Bulls were that last seed in the Western Conference. That Red Bulls side was able to defeat a two-time defending MLS champion Houston Dynamo and a strong Real Salt Lake side to reach their only MLS Cup final.

That Red Bull side was similar to this year's side in that they were a side that struggled but were able to get into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

Now the Red Bulls will play one of the best sides in MLS in the Galaxy, much like they did in 2008 against the Dynamo.

Despite the history, the Red Bulls' play can also prove to be beneficial against the Galaxy.

In goal, Frank Rost has finally looked like he has gotten comfortable. In the past month, Rost has four clean sheets (two of which came in Dallas). For a good portion of this season, goalkeeping has been a colossal problem for New York. Considering how Rost has played lately, it certainly is a major boost.

The Red Bulls have also started to look better defensively since Rafa Marquez has been moved into midfield instead of partnering with Tim Ream in the back following his controversial comments about Ream last month.

Ream has slowly started to get better and made some important plays tonight to help keep Dallas off the board.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Despite a poor season, Tim Ream has started to show glimpses of his form from last year

Up top, Joel Lindpere has continued to make his impact felt as the most important player on this side with his goal tonight. Without having Lindpere, the Red Bulls certainly would not be in the playoffs.

Let's also not forget about the absence of Luke Rogers. Rogers was a key component of the Red Bulls squad this season and the Red Bulls were still able to win to advance without him in the lineup due to injury.

But perhaps the most important feature of this Red Bulls squad is that they are coming together at the right time.

The '08 Red Bulls, the '09 version of Real Salt Lake and last year's Colorado Rapids have proven that all you need in the playoffs is for your team to play up to its potential and you will go far.

Before the season started, many people thought that the Red Bulls were going to at the very least go deep in the playoffs, with some claiming that the Red Bulls would win the cup.

New York have been disappointing in the regular season, but that no longer matters. What really matters is how the Red Bulls will play against the Galaxy in this matchup. 

Considering both history and how well we know the Red Bulls can play, it shouldn't be a surprise if New York claims its first MLS Cup.

For more MLS news, follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_Jordan

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