|Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls travel to LA needing a win to advance to the conference finals. (QMI Agency)
Red Bull New York faces a tough playoff task, as it travels to The Home Depot Center to face the Los Angeles Galaxy in Thursday's Western Conference Semifinal needing to overturn a one-goal deficit.
Los Angeles topped New York 1-0 at Red Bull Arena on Sunday to leave the Red Bulls with all to do in the return leg.
In order to advance to the Conference Final, the Red Bulls will need to become the first team to pull off a win over the Galaxy at The Home Depot Center this year.
New York is accustomed to adversity in the postseason. During its 2008 run to MLS Cup, it began the campaign with a 1-1 home draw against the Houston Dynamo.
This season, Luke Rodgers was injured for New York's wild card match at FC Dallas and the Red Bulls still managed a 2-0 win on the road against a formidable opponent.
On Thursday, New York will be without Rafa Marquez, who was shown a red card for his involvement in a fracas that took place after the final whistle blew on Sunday.
"It puts a little pressure on us," said defender Tim Ream. "We've shown the past couple of games that we are up to the task and guys step in and get the job done. If we are without Rafa, so be it. It's just one of those things, we have guys willing to step in and get the job done."
But the Red Bulls will welcome back defender Jan Gunnar Solli, who missed the opening leg after his sending off in the wild card match at FC Dallas.
Even as a defender, Solli should help bolster the Red Bulls attack.
"[He's] definitely more of an attacking fullback," said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. "That can probably help us in our attacking game."
Backe was still pleased with his side's performance in Sunday's loss to the Galaxy, and with New York's recent success against Los Angeles in Carson, CA, he believes the two-legged affair is still up for grabs.
"It was a great performance, one of our absolutely better games by far, for a couple of months," said Backe. "We totally controlled the game, dictated the game. We had four huge chances to tie the game.
"To me, this is totally wide open. If we can perform like this on Thursday, we have won before in L.A. and we can do it again."
Despite winning on the road, Los Angeles is not resting on its laurels.
According to Mike Magee, who scored the lone goal in Sunday's win, he and his Galaxy teammates feel that they did not play as strong as the MLS Supporters' Shield winners should.
"I don't think we were too happy with the way we played," Magee said. "I don't think we played the way we've been playing all year.
"We took our foot off the gas and we stopped passing. We didn't put away that second one which would have been huge. Even though we won, it's a weird feeling because we didn't play the way we're used to."
The Galaxy may have found it difficult on Sunday because of all the players making their way back onto the pitch after short stints on the sidelines.
Landon Donovan returned to the team after missing the Galaxy's last three regular season games with a quadricep injury, while Robbie Keane played for the first time since sustaining an adductor injury on Oct. 2. Sean Franklin also made his first start since Sept. 9.
With some of the rust now gone for these players, Los Angeles could be a well-rested machine with key players returning at just the right time.