The deja vu is powerful: for the second time in three years, the New York Red Bulls rewrote the MLS record books in their next to last game of the season as they make a charge towards a major trophy.
Two years ago, it was Tim Cahill pouncing right after kickoff in Houston with a goal that was clocked at eight seconds, the then-fastest in MLS history. Yesterday in Harrison against Philadelphia, it was Mike Grella in what was officially clocked at seven seconds:
Our deep tactical analysis of the goal leads us to two points: first, the presence of mind for Grella to high press on the opening back-pass, winning a turnover, and racing into the box to score before most fans were in their seats. Second, LOL PHILLY.
Grella's lightning quick goal was his first of two for him on the afternoon. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kemar Lawrence added a goal each on their way to a 4-1 score line that ensured the Red Bulls would finish first in the MLS Eastern Conference. It is the third time in the last six seasons they've topped the East.
With one week to play, the Red Bulls again find themselves facing Chicago on the final week to claim the Supporters Shield. This does sound remarkably like 2013, where they did just that, but the math (and the superstition) is a little different. FC Dallas is level on points with the Red Bulls, and on wins (which is the first tiebreaker), but trail New York by six goals (the second tiebreaker). But the Red Bulls must travel to Bridgeview, where they have not won in a decade, and get the same or better result than Dallas, who host the desperate (but not always very good) San Jose Earthquakes later the same day. Chicago may be the worst team in MLS this year, but Toyota Park remains a house of horrors for RBNY.
After that, they can look to the playoffs. The Red Bulls will enjoy a bye past the knockout round when the playoffs start the following week. They will travel to the lowest remaining seed in the East on November 1st, before hosting the second leg on November 8th.
As for Cahill, he's not even mad:
— Tim Cahill (@Tim_Cahill) October 18, 2015