International breaks can be cruel torture for Major League Soccer fan bases during the summer and fall. This is one of those times for supporters of the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls won't be in action again until this coming Saturday (September 15) when they host the Columbus Crew in a match that signals the unofficial start of New York's final run of games before the 2012 MLS Playoffs. Three league contests are scheduled to take place between the posting of this piece and Saturday morning ET, and all three of them could affect both Columbus and New York before those two sides face off at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
2012 New York Red Bulls scoreboard watching for September 12
Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire: Chicago have quietly solidified themselves as a true MLS Playoffs team. The Fire are currently in fourth place in the MLS Eastern Conference standings, two points ahead of Columbus (42) and two points behind New York. Wednesday's contest will put Chicago level in league games played with those two clubs heading into the weekend, when they host Montreal Impact. While the Fire will be the visitors on September 12, they'll be playing a TFC side that has been in the basement of the overall league standings throughout 2012. Red Bulls fans should happily take any result that isn't a Chicago victory in this one.
2012 New York Red Bulls scoreboard watching for September 14
Sporting KC vs. Houston Dynamo: This is a game that will likely impact all potential Eastern Conference playoff sides. SKC are currently atop the conference and four points ahead of New York, while Houston are a point behind the Red Bulls. Another noteworthy fact is that Houston have played 28 league matches, while both Kansas City and New York have played 27. RBNY will host Kansas City twice between now and the end of the campaign, so a KC win wouldn't be devastating for the Red Bulls. A draw here coupled with a New York victory on Saturday is, on paper, the best possible scenario for RBNY.
LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids: Despite being one of the least impressive sides in MLS throughout the summer, Colorado somehow still have an outside chance of making the postseason. The Rapids are of little concern to the Red Bulls, though, while the defending league champs are a victory away from being level on points with New York. There's a lot that can happen in the Supporters' Shield race between now and late next month, and the top tier of the league standings is already quite crowded. RBNY supporters should hope LA drop points, but I would advise all to not expect a positive result for New York in this one.