Red Bulls look to continue playoff streak, face Nashville SC

League: MLS

Posted on: 20 Oct, 2023 at 08:50 PM

Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls go into Saturday's Decision Day game at Nashville SC knowing they need to come away with a positive result if they are to have any chance of keeping their record playoff streak alive.

New York (10-13-10, 40 points), one of four teams in the Eastern Conference with 40 points, enters the final day in 10th place, one spot below the playoff line. The Red Bulls have a 13-season playoff streak, tied with the Seattle Sounders (2009-21) for the longest in MLS history, and also the longest active playoff streak in major American sports. Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers (11) are second.

D.C. United, Chicago and Charlotte also enter the final day with 40 points, with eighth-place Montreal just one point ahead. D.C. United are mathematically eliminated from contention because they have completed their season and will be passed by at least one team.

It's possible the Red Bulls could still qualify with a draw if Chicago loses or draws against New York City FC and Charlotte loses or draws with Inter Miami. However, there are also scenarios in which New York could win and still miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

"For sure, all of us are feeling that it's must-win," defender John Tolkin said. "I'm pretty sure there are other scenarios where we can get in but to us it's win or go home."

That won't be easy against seventh-place Nashville (13-10-10, 49 points), which has already clinched a playoff berth and is 9-3-4 at home this season. Led by reigning MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar (15 goals, 11 assists), Nashville has lost just once in its last eight matches dating back to late August (2-1-5) and comes in off a 3-2 victory over the New England Revolution last Saturday.

"The hope is of course that we can finish the season on a high note and take ourselves into the playoffs in a good frame of mind," Nashville head coach Gary Smith said.

New York is 1-0-2 all-time against Nashville, which has allowed just 31 goals in 33 matches. The two teams drew 0-0 on March 4 in the Red Bulls' home opener.

"We know going into Nashville ... it's a tough environment," Tolkin said. "They have the best back line in the league I think. Those are two things you don't want to be facing on the last day. But we have full confidence. Based on our form, we're super excited to get out there and running."

--Field Level Media