HANOVER, N.J. — New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch called the first Hudson River Derby of the 2018 season a “massive challenge,” and his team passed that test with flying colors in a 4-0 trouncing of New York City FC.
Now comes a different kind of challenge when the Red Bulls head to Commerce City to take on the Colorado Rapids Saturday night.
Can the Red Bulls match their intensity and be as sharp a week and a few thousand miles removed from the electric atmosphere at Red Bull Arena?
“We have to be able to transition to a game where there isn’t the same sort of hype, same sort of emotion surrounding it and then of course it’s away,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “The away games so far have not been our best. I think we got a great result in LA, but there’s always just a different element we have to overcome.”
The Red Bulls (5-3-0, 15 points) have just one win away from Red Bull Arena this season — and that came in their last road game against the LA Galaxy. They last lost to Orlando City SC, which used that result to spark what is currently a franchise-best six-match winning streak.
“You don’t want to catch a team that is trying to put it together and you’re actually their first victim,” Robles said. “In order for us to prevent that we have to go with the right mentality and the right competitive approach to the game and if we’re able to do that, we’re going to make it tough on them.”
Colorado (2-4-2, 8 points) has lost three straight games, including back-to-back one-goal defeats to the Lions and Sporting Kansas City, and the Rapids have scored just one goal during that span. Although the results haven’t gone their way, under new coach Anthony Hudson, the Rapids have been tough to break down.
“The thing that we’ll know for sure is that they’ll be very dangerous on the counter,” Marsch said. “[Dominique] Badji has done that the last couple of years. He’s very dynamic, he’s aggressive to get forward, he’s quick and he’s already hurt us there before.”
Badji scored the late winner to lift the Rapids to a 2-1 win over the Red Bulls in the last meeting at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on April 16, 2016. He has five goals in eight starts this season.
In a similar road trip in March, the Red Bulls went to Rio Tinto Stadium to play Real Salt Lake at altitude following an emotional and historic win over Club Tijuana in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.
The end result was a 1-0 loss where the Red Bulls lamented not looking like themselves.
“I think that’s where we have to hold ourselves accountable,” defender Tim Parker said. “We have to hold ourselves to a standard now. It might be a big game against New York City, when you go on the road, especially into the Western Conference, we have to make sure we get as many points as we can.”