Boston versus New York. It’s a rivalry that goes back more than a century. The Patriots, Bruins and Red Sox carry the honor of their city into battle against the Jets, Rangers and Yankees. Its now time for the Revolution and Red Bulls to throw their names into the mix.
Both teams earned their way into the Eastern Conference Finals, but did so using different paths. The Revolution beat a lackadaisical Columbus Crew team in the first round of the playoffs, while the Red Bulls had to win a one off wild card game against formidable Sporting KC before moving onto DC United. United was never going to be an easy task having moved from the bottom of the conference in 2013 to winning the regular season standing in 2014. New York jumped out to an early series lead at home before finishing United off in DC.
The New York Red Bulls come rolling into the conference championship series with one of the league’s most explosive offenses. They may not have the explosiveness or pedigree of the LA Galaxy, but they seem to have an answer every time they have been backed into a corner this postseason.
The key for the Red Bulls to advance to MLS Cup 2014 is Thierry Henry. Henry is carrying his team with leadership, passion and impossible passes he seemingly pulls out of nowhere. Henry is very similar to another league star, Landon Donovan, in that he may be playing in his final home game in this series and will want to go out with a bang. While he has not confirmed that his playing days may be numbered, many people expect that he will opt out of New York and either return to his beloved Arsenal as a mentor or call it quits all together. While there is no way to know for sure until the man himself makes his plans known to the public, we do know that this will be one of the final times he appears in the MLS Playoffs.
Bradley Wright-Phillips has also been a standout for the Red Bulls this season. He scored a league leading 27 goals this season, tying the MLS single season record in the process. He has benefitted greatly from Henry being on the field. Teams are automatically drawn to Henry which leaves massive shooting lanes for Wright-Phillips. That is not to say it has been easy. Wright-Phillips has begun to show the prolific scoring style Henry made famous years ago. He is on the shortlist for MLS MVP this season and he has earned it.