After an embarrassing late-match meltdown in their 3-2 home defeat to the New England Revolution last weekend, the Red Bulls knew what their No. 1 priority in improvement was for FC Cincinnati Wednesday night:
Close out the game, especially if it is a tight game at Red Bull Arena (8 p.m. ET).
The Red Bulls bring two deflating streaks into the match. They have lost two consecutive contests and have a four-game winless streak.
Not exactly the momentum a team needs for a playoff run over the final three months.
But losing the lead to the Revs still was in their minds.
“We’ve lacked more defensive order when we’re in the lead,” Wiki Carmona said. “At the end of games, we need more communication and more defensive order.”
Fabio had another theory.
“We’re a young team,” he said. “We have a lot of new players with experience, but they’re still new. We have to be smarter, especially at the end of games. We can’t afford to keep dealing with the same things. The misses are mine like they’re for everybody else. So, we have to keep working hard, very strongly so when we get to Wednesday’s match, we can avoid what happened against New England.”
Head coach Gerard Struber said the game will be “a test of the character and it is a test of the mental situation.”
“Sometimes, I think these are big learnings and big chances to grow up your mindset to be in the end, ready for big goals,” he added. “Yeah, it is a test, it is a big exam for some players and also for me. We have grown up with these tests and with these challenges.”
The ninth-place Red Bulls (5-7-3, 18 points) needs this win against 11th-place FC Cincy (3-7-5, 14) because they trail CF Montreal (6-6-4, 22) for the seventh and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. They can’t afford to fall further behind.
“Based on the little I’ve heard, they’ve told me that they’re an irritating team,” Carmona said. “They have good players that are fast. I know and trust my team. We’re going to give our all, and we’re going to win this next game
“There will always be pressure,” Fabio said. “We know that it will be a tough game.”
Added Struber: “It [is] so important that we have everyone on the same page.”