Harrison, NJ (Sports Network) - Red Bull New York coach Hans Backe called the
timing of the recent international break "perfect," as his club enjoyed a rest
ahead of the final two months of the season.
Backe has New York third in the Eastern Conference with seven matches left in
the season and, with two matches against first-place Sporting Kansas City left
on the schedule, will try climb the table Saturday against the Columbus Crew.
New York (13-7-7) is just three points off the East summit, and takes a five-
match unbeaten run into its match at Red Bull Arena against Columbus (12-9-6).
"I think the break came perfect because we had been on the road, tough games,"
Backe said on the club's website. "Mentally wise I think it was very good to
get this break."
The Red Bulls earned a 1-1 draw at Sporting and a 2-2 at D.C. United away from
home in their last two matches before the break and play five of their next at
New York did not need a break from its home form as it remains one of just two
unbeaten sides at its own ground. The Red Bulls are 9-0-3 at home and only the
Houston Dynamo, with nine wins and five draws, are also unbeaten at home.
Backe has all of his top options to call upon as New York returns to the field
for the first time since late August, and 14-goal scorer Kenny Cooper said the
match against East rival Columbus was important.
"When you're close in the table to teams and you go against them, they're six-
point games," Cooper said. "Because here's a possibility of not only getting
points but also taking points off of the other team, and hopefully we can do
that in these last couple of games."
Columbus has quietly entered the playoff picture in the East, and sits in the
last of the five spots. Although its six-game unbeaten streak was snapped with
a 2-0 loss at the New England Revolution, it is just eight off the pace.
The Crew also have one team on their heels, as D.C. United sits one point back
in sixth entering the final stretch. At just 4-6-4 on the road, Columbus faces
a tough task this week, however.
Columbus lost 4-1 to New York at Crew Stadium earlier this season, but it has
changed since the signings of Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta. Columbus had
two draws and four wins before its loss to New England, and has a new outlook.
"It doesn't matter where we play, we're going to go out with the mentality to
win," Columbus defender Josh Williams said. "We all know New York is one of
the best teams in the league. I think they have the best style of play. They
always play well. They always keep possession, but we're going in there with
the mindset of getting three points and nothing less."