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While fans freak out, New York Red Bulls calm, confident ahead of East semifinal 2nd leg

Nov 4, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo (62) chases down the ball under pressure from Columbus Crew SC midfielder Justin Meram (9)at Mapfre Stadium. (Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports)

HANOVER, N.J. — The noise, and nerves, from Red Bulls Nation is deafening. It reached a fever pitch when the New York Red Bulls, fresh off winning a third Supporters’ Shield title in six years, dropped a 1-0 decision to Columbus Crew SC on Sunday at MAPFRE Stadium in the opening leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But inside the gates of the Red Bulls training facility, things are considerably calmer.

“It seems there’s a nervousness amongst people surrounding the team for some reason,” defender Tim Parker said. “For us, we’re comfortable. It was one game at a time. For the first half to be over now and to get to get home, we’re excited about it.”

Players and coaches alike preach keeping a level mentality, about never getting too high and never getting too low. Its the stuff of cliched quotes, but it’s also essential in the postseason.

No one, inside the Red Bulls training facility at least, is freaking out. There’s no talks of curses or a history of postseason failure.

Nobody is happy to be in the position they’re in, but there’s confidence based on their overall home form (14-2-1 during the regular season) and consistency throughout 34 regular season games, six matches in the Concacaf Champions League and two in the U.S. Open Cup.

“There’s a lot of belief in what we’re doing here from within these walls, especially at home,” coach Chris Armas said. “It’s a confident group we have and it remains confident. That comes from successes this year in the Champions League and previous playoff experiences that have made us feel we’re ready for this.”

Not that Armas had his doubts, but that assessment of his club was fortified when the players arrived for their first day of training after Sunday’s loss in Columbus on Tuesday morning.

“You just watch how they showed up today,” he said. “The energy was incredible, there’s a lot of self-belief  and we know we’re ready.”

The approach isn’t quite “business as usual,” according to Kemar Lawrence, because the Red Bulls need more than a simple victory to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The most ideal result would be a 2-0 win.

“The mindset right now is details, to get all our little details right,” Lawrence said.

That scoreline isn’t foreign for the Red Bulls, in fact it was the result they managed in back-to-back home wins over Toronto FC and Atlanta United down the stretch of the regular season, followed by a 3-1 win at San Jose. They also had clean sheets in four of the last five regular season games, which is another reason for confidence for a team that led the league in fewest goals conceded with 33 during the regular season.

“In this game coming up, we’re not thinking about conceding goals. We don’t concede goals, no matter how we’re playing. That’s still the mentality,” Lawrence said. “We’re just going on Sunday to win this game on Sunday, trying to get as many goals as possible and the guys in the back will lock things down as usual.”




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