MLS Talking Points: Red Bulls come together

The New York Red Bulls find themselves in position to win MLS's Eastern Conference regular-season title for the third time in the last four years after a 3-2 win over Philadelphia that extended their unbeaten streak to 14 games. Even more important, the Red Bulls showed they could hold on to a lead, a problem throughout the season.

After starting out with six losses in their first seven games, the New York Red Bulls looked to be in big trouble in MLS's Eastern Conference.

But a run of 6-1-1 got them back into contention, and they now find themselves in position to win the regular-season conference title for the three time in the last four years after a 3-2 win over Philadelphia.

The Red Bulls trailed most of the first half and took the lead on goals by Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips on either side of the break only for the Union to rally on a goal by Chris Pontius.

Captain Dax McCarty, who had assist on the first two goals, scored the winner to extend New York's unbeaten streak to 14 games, the longest in club history, and move it into first place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of New York City FC on goal difference

"I thought overall it was a really good game," said Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch. "A good game for the league and a good game to watch, and a good game to be a part of."

He said he was impressed how the Red Bulls got stronger as the game went on and overcame the setback of Pontius' equalizer.

"We were more committed, more focused, more concentrated," Marsch said, "and then it leads to us eventually getting the win."

He said he has been stressing with his players about dealing with tough situations.

"I was really impressed with their commitment, with their sharpness, with their competitive will, with their heart and character, so much in there that we've been trying to be about for two years," he said. "So I think this group's coming together in a good way."

During the 14-game unbeaten streak, the Red Bulls have won seven games and tied seven others but blew leads in six of the seven games that ended in draws -- five of them with two-goal leads. Marsch said he was pleased with the Red Bulls' game management in killing the game.

A big factor, Marsch added, was having McCarty back in the lineup.  The Red Bulls captain missed all of August with a broken leg and played all of nine minutes (as a late sub in the 3-3 tie with Toronto FC) in the last four games in which the Red Bulls blew two-goal leads.

"Well, I said when we were giving up the two-goal leads," said Marsch, "I thought that Dax would be a very important element, because his experience, his savviness in the middle of the field, his understanding of what games are like, his understanding of what each moment of the game requires is one of the highest levels of any player in that position in the league and potentially any player in the league."
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