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PREVIEW: Decision Day as Red Bulls Win Guarantees Playoff Berth

photo by Matt Kremkau

by Anthony J. Merced

It all comes down to this! The New York Red Bulls will play their 34th and final game of the 2023 season with their destiny squarely in their own hands. A win over Nashville at Geodis Park will give them 43 points and push them into either the eighth or ninth playoff spots. While a win my seem like an easy prospect, Nashville is one of the better home teams in MLS with only three losses all season.

"We have to defensively find our structure," said head coach Troy Lesesne. "What we did against DC and Cincinnati was we didn't make any unnecessary mistakes, for the most part, in those games. And if we did, we were able to find a way to score goals ourselves or be able to mask some of those situations that we found challenging during the match. I think we have to do that versus Nashville."

Red Bulls have won back-to-back games for the first time in 2023 with wins over FC Cincinnati and Toronto. This, along with results around the league, means that the team can qualify for a playoff spot with a win but will need help to do so with any other result. The team has earned this ability to have it at their finger tips, a chance to continue one of the longest playoff streaks in American sports, 13 consecutive seasons.

All that stands in their way is a Nashville team that still has something to play for. Despite a win against New England, Nashville have only one win in their last five games, with the team unable to score goals at home in their last two home games. New York has seemingly found the ability to score again, with multiple goals in three of their last four games. 

"You've seen some of our best results in terms of goal production," said Lesesne about his team's recent offensive form. "I want us to feel free in these moments. I want us to feel like we want to go for it and we know that by going for it and getting three points, we achieve something that is really special in getting into the playoffs."

Red Bulls play Nashville SC on Saturday night at Geodis Park on the MLS Pass on Apple TV.


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