PURCHASE, N.Y. – According to the playoff seeds, the sixth-seeded New York Red Bulls‘ 4-0 win over the third-seeded Chicago Fire in an Eastern Conference Knockout Round game on Wednesday was an upset.
Not according to New York City FC manager Patrick Vieira, however.
“Sixth seed or fifth seed, it doesn’t mean anything,” Vieira said. “It just means if you finish top two you play one less game.”
That was the goal NYCFC set out to accomplish and they did that, finishing second in the East for a second straight year. That allowed Vieira and his team to sit back and watch the Red Bulls defeat the Fire. They now know they will face the winner of Thursday’s showdown between Atlanta United and Columbus Crew SC (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás; TSN4, TVAS in Canada).
“Atlanta have individuals who can run at you, who can score any goal at any time during the game, people who have pace, power and are really strong 1-v-1,” Vieira said. “Columbus is about the collective game. I think they are well organized, playing really good football and have different characteristics.”
While the Red Bulls’ rout of Chicago may have sent some shockwaves throughout the league, that wasn’t the case for Vieira.
“When you look at the game yesterday it just shows you that you can finish, sixth, fourth, three, it’s one game and a team who plays well on the day of course has more chance of winning the games,” Vieira said. “The Red Bulls showed it yesterday.”
NYCFC winger Rodney Wallace also watched the Red Bulls win, but he was more guarded in praising their rivals.
“They had a good result last night,” said Wallace, who declined to comment about Red Bulls midfielder Felipe’s quotes about wanting to face NYCFC in the playoffs.
The Hudson River Derby was more balanced this season than in the first two years, with NYCFC winning two of the three regular season meetings, while the teams played to a 1-1 draw in the third matchup.
Felipe, though, will have to focus on Supporters’ Shield winners Toronto FC now, while Wallace and NYCFC are concentrating on their own playoff run.
“It’s in the air,” Wallace said. “Players know that and they feel it, but you also have to emphasize that its do-or-die now. It’s time for everyone to dig a little bit deeper than we’ve been digging. We’ve been a hungry group the whole year, but now we have to be out there and push a bit harder and want it more.”