New York Red Bulls Aim to Draw Level in East with Match Against Columbus Crew 2
Oct 16, 2016; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Columbus Crew during second half at Red Bull Arena. The New York Red Bulls defeated Columbus Crew 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls go into Wednesday’s match vs San Jose seventh in the East. They need to improve if they want to move above the red line and seal a playoff spot.

The New York Red Bulls have struggled this season as an Eastern Conference powerhouse. Compared to the past few years, RBNY haven’t found the traction to pull themselves into playoff position.

The good news is that it is only about halfway through the season, and the New York Red Bulls will indeed make the playoffs. Quite possibly even win an MLS Championship. Subsequently, RBNY can also see themselves as US Open Cup Champions.

Here are the five reasons why the New York Red Bulls will make the MLS Playoffs:

1. History

The first reason RBNY will make the playoffs is well-known. The New York Red Bulls are notorious for a late season rally. The New York Red Bulls finished in first in the East in 2015. In fact, this was enough for a Supporters’ Shield win. This was certainly due to RBNY’s late season wins.

RBNY saw 14 wins in 19 games toward the end of the season. There is no doubting their ability to rally as it also happened in 2016.

In 2016 RBNY also finished first in the East. Yet again, this was due to RBNY’s ability to rally late. In the same last 19 games, they lost only twice. In the last stretch they won 10 and drew eight.

In terms of another late season run, RBNY can either win a majority of games like they did in 2015, or not lose like in 2016. Either way, RBNY will need to avoid late season losses.

Historically, RBNY have the ability to make a late season push into the 2017 MLS Playoffs.

2. RBNY vs. Eastern Conference Opponents

The New York Red Bulls have done a phenomenal job against Eastern Conference opponents this season. So far, RBNY are 7W-1D-1L against Eastern opponents for a .77 win percentage. Compared to that of Western opponents, RBNY are 1W-1D-4L. Only a .16 win percentage. This is crucial when it is applied to the remaining schedule of RBNY.

RBNY will play 11 games against Eastern Conference opponents. This is certainly a sign that RBNY will have an opportunity to win against teams they’ve fared well against this season.

If RBNY follow their .77 win percentage, we should see them win about eight or nine of those games. Not too bad for a team seeking a playoff spot.

3. Luis Robles and Ryan Meara

While RBNY’s attack struggled this season, the goalkeeping has been phenomenal. Both Luis Robles and Ryan Meara have been solid contributors to the team this season.

Luis Robles has a total of 18 games played and five shutouts, currently third in the MLS for saves at 64. While not always a good indicator of a keeper, he has certainly been busy in net.

Robles’s goals against average is only 1.38 goals per game. This is not terrible as his two previous seasons’ goal average was 1.29 and 1.26.

The New York Red Bulls have been busy with both MLS and US Open Cup play this season. RBNY played congested schedules against tough opponents, sometimes back to back.

Ryan Meara is a vital part in RBNY’s push for the playoffs. In late stages of the US Open Cup, Meara’s phenomenal play allows Robles to rest for MLS season games. We will see how far Meara stays in the lineup for the US Open Cup. For the fourth round and quarterfinals (round of 16), Meara has been an instrumental part of RBNY’s deep run into the domestic cup tournament.

The result is that RBNY’s keepers are instrumental to their success. So much so that the team could be said to have the best keepers in the league, if not the world. With important games to come, both Robles and Meara will be vital to their US Open Cup and MLS Playoff pushes.

4. Bench Depth

The New York Red Bulls have something few MLS teams offer, bench depth. The team has an extraordinary amount of experience and skill on their bench. To add to the regulars of Bradley Wright-Phillips, Kljestan, Robles, Long, and Felipe, RBNY have significant contributors off of the bench.

Players such as Connor Lade, Gonzalo Veron, and Sal Zizzo all have had substantial contributions to RBNY’s 2017 MLS season.

Connor Lade has logged 564 minutes in nine games, seven of those as a starter. He also has contributed to two shutouts and four wins this season.

Gonzalo Veron has logged 167 minutes in eight games. He has two assists this season. His most notable contribution was his late goal against New England which resulted in an MLS regular season win.

Zizzo has logged 844 minutes in 13 games this season. He has two assists. Zizzo also contributed toward six wins this season.

Depth in players such as these and many others offers RBNY the opportunity for rest, rotation, and opportunity in sure-to-be turbulent end to the season.

5. Signing Opportunities

The New York Red Bulls are currently seeking additions to their roster. Head Coach Jesse Marsch has hinted at an offensive signing all season long. He acknowledges RBNY’s scoring troubles and is constantly hinting at closing in on signing crucial players to the team.

With Justin Bilyeu’s release and Brandon Allen being loaned out, RBNY has added space for offensive additions.

While not announced yet, an addition to the roster would surely contribute to the team’s push for an MLS Playoff spot.

There is no doubt the RBNY will make the MLS Playoffs. In their pursuit of a playoff push, RBNY may also win a US Open Cup Championship.

What do you think RBNY’s chances at the MLS Playoffs are?

Chris Sudol is a former college soccer player who now avidly supports the New York Red Bulls, Arsenal, and Barcelona, among many other soccer teams.