HANOVER, N.J. — The objective, according to Alex Muyl, is crystal clear after the New York Red Bulls lost 3-0 to Atlanta United in the opening leg of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Daunting, but clear.
“i think it’s pretty clear that we have to come out and be aggressive and try and get on the front foot as early as possible,” Muyl told ProSoccerUSA after training Tuesday. “The task isn’t going to be easy, but it’s clear at least and we’re at home where we’ve been very good and shown that we can beat them. We didn’t do ourselves any favors and we didn’t expect that outcome at all, nor in our wildest dreams ever think that would happen, but now I think we know what we have to do and we’re going to have to try to do that.”
No team has ever rebounded from a 3-0 deficit in the opening leg to win an aggregate series in MLS, but the Red Bulls returned to work Tuesday with a belief they can make history on Thursday night in the second leg at Red Bull Arena.
“We know if we can get out of this, it’s going to be a crazy story. What a story this will be,” Muyl said. “That’s what is on our minds. The belief in ourselves and in this group is unbelievable. After the game we’re down, but we come in today and you can see the look on people’s faces and no one is defeated, no one thinks this is the end for us. That’s the biggest strength we have right now and hopefully one goal goes in and things start to roll.”
Although the deficit wasn’t as large, the Red Bulls did come back from losing at Columbus, 1-0, in the opening leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, to beat Crew SC, 3-0, at home in the second leg.
The Red Bulls are 7-1-3 after a loss in all competitions and had six three-goal performances after defeats this year.
“Not just that game, but all season, at home we’ve been so good and that’s what we draw confidence from, as well as when you have your back against the wall, I think that this year we’ve been very good,” Muyl said. “Obviously you don’t want to be in this position, but we can use that to our advantage to know that we’ve been good in these situations before.”
In that 3-0 win over Columbus on Nov. 11, Muyl scored the first goal in the 17th minute before Danny Royer sealed the win, and the aggregate series, with a second-half brace.
Another early goal against Atlanta United could be the perfect shot of adrenaline the Red Bulls need to make history on Thursday.
“If we can get one early, it becomes its own momentum, especially when they’re going to have that in their heads, I think,” Muyl said. “Sometimes when you have this big lead, it can become its own weight and it own pressure. Hopefully that can affect them.”