Previewing the Red Bulls' last match of the 2022 MLS Season

It may seem like the Red Bulls have nothing to play for because they already clinched their 13th straight postseason berth, but Sunday is Major League Soccer Decision Day and they will actually be playing for something very important when they face Charlotte FC at 2:30 p.m. on Fan Appreciation Night at Red Bull Arena.

The Red Bulls sit in fourth place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference, which is two points behind their arch-rival, New York City FC. If Red Bull take three points and NYCFC lose, they move into third place which guarantees them a home playoff game in the first round of the upcoming MLS Cup playoffs. Yet another reason why Red Bull should want to win tomorrow is they want to end a two-match losing streak, which remarkably is the first that the team has had all season.

Gerhard Struber's second season as the Red Bull manager has gone very well. He talked about what Sunday's match means to him and his club.

It is important that in the end against Charlotte we have a good performance and also a good result. We will invest everything on Sunday so that in the end we have good confidence for the big tournament that is starting and we will do everything we have to do to have a good starting feeling for MLS Cup. That will start against Charlotte hopefully with a good performance again in the end, a result.

However, earning a positive result will not be easy for Struber's team. That is because their opponents are fresh off a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Union, who are leading in the chase for the MLS Supporter's Shield. On top of it all, the Red Bulls roster is not at full strength and will have to play this game without two midfielders. Those two promising young players are Christian Casseres Jr. who leads the team in assists this season.

Meanwhile, Dru Yearwood had made 25 appearances and been a mainstay in Struber's starting lineup before he was suspended three games for kicking a ball into the stands at Red Bull Arena during a loss against their rival, Philadelphia. In addition to Yearwood and Casseres, attacking midfielder Cameron Harper will also not be available but the Red Bulls will have attacking options off the bench like Serge Ngoma, who has two goals in just seven appearances this season.

Fortunately for the Red Bulls, losing players has not hurt them much due to the consistent play of players like rookie midfielder Daniel Edelman. Since the New Jersey-native began a current streak of eight consecutive starts in mid-August, he has infused energy and enthusiasm into the team while solidifying his role as one of two defensive midfielders in the lineup.

Sunday's match is Fan Appreciation Night, which is extra special for Edelman, who grew up a Red Bull fan. The midfielder discussed how the team can show appreciation for the fans on Sunday.

It's been a pretty great year for me, to play these last few stretch games and start to see a role that I have within the squad. I definitely had to be patient throughout the middle of the season and just continue to work hard in training and put my head down...This last game right here, we all want to give back to the fans and end the season on a great note. - Daniel Edelman

Even though the Red Bulls finished much higher than Charlotte in the standings, Edelman is not taking Charlotte lightly. The Red Bulls opponent on Sunday has won three games in a row and Edelman described what he expects to see from them.

Honestly, they're going to come at us with everything they've got. They know what we have on the line. They're going to [want to] close out their regular season on a high note and have a great first season in MLS....they're going to try to come at us with everything, still have the same approach, and just come to Red Bull Arena to show us that they're a team that's going to do something in the future. We have to be prepared, fight back and do our thing.

Stay with Jersey Sporting News for continued coverage of the Red Bulls playoff run.

Anthony Paradiso
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