Monday Oct 28, 2013
New York Red Bulls qualify for CCL
The New York Red Bulls qualified for the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League by capturing the MLS Supporters Shield on October 27, 2013. (Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/New York Red Bulls)
HARRISON, N.J. -- By securing the Supporters Shield for accruing the most points during the Major League Soccer regular season, not only did the New York Red Bulls earn the first piece of hardware in their 18-year history, they also qualified for a berth in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League.
The Red Bulls completed their historic ride to the MLS Eastern Conference crown by routing the Chicago Fire, 5-2, in their regular-season finale at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. They earned a conference crown for only the third time in their history -- 2000 and 2010 were the other occasions -- on the strength of a 17-8-9 record and 59 points.
“This is a great moment for our franchise, for our players, for our staff. For our supporters especially," said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke, who won the title as a rookie head coach after being a popular player for many years with the club.
"It has been a long time, a long time coming. These guys earned it; it doesn't matter what is written, it doesn't matter how they played in certain moments. These guys gave me everything [that] they have this year to end the season. I'm at a loss for words. As a professional, aside from my family life and personal life, I'm talking about my career as a player and as a coach, this is by far – to know – the best moment.”
The Red Bulls competed in the 2009 CCL preliminary round and were eliminated by Trinidad & Tobago's W Connection.
Former French international and Arsenal and Barcelona standout Thierry Henry, Ibraim Sekagya, Lloyd Sam, Jonny Steele and Eric Alexander scored for the Red Bulls, who broke open a 1-1 halftime deadlock with four second-half goals.
New York will play the winner of Wednesday's Eastern Conference knockout game between the Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact. The survivor will host the Red Bulls in the conference semifinals Sunday, with the return match here on either Wednesday, Nov. 6 or Thursday, Nov. 7.
Henry said that just because a team won the regular-season title did it mean that it meant they would win the playoffs.
"We will see. Since I’ve been here [in the league] the only team that won the Supporters’ Shield and won it [the MLS Cup] was L.A., so hopefully we can do the same thing," he said. "The history from the last couple of years showed that’s not always the case. Hopefully we can do it. I think we have the quality to do it, but I also think you have a lot of teams that can do that in this league."
The Red Bulls are the second team to qualify for next year's CCL. D.C. United won the U.S. Open Cup to be the first.