Major League Soccer

Red Bulls need at least two-goal margin to advance

The New York Red Bulls won the Eastern Conference and scored 61 goals in the regular season.

New York is on the brink of being eliminated from the postseason.

The Montreal Impact can knock out the Red Bulls in the second leg of the conference semifinals on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

The Impact defeated New York 1-0 last Sunday in Montreal during the first leg of the aggregate format.

To advance to the conference finals, New York would have to win by a margin of at least two goals. The Impact can move with a draw.

The Impact are the first team to beat the Red Bulls in MLS competition since a 2-0 loss to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on July 3d.

Matteo Mancosu has emerged as the star of the postseason for Montreal. The former Serie A forward scored the deciding goal on Sunday and it was his third strike in two playoff games.

He sent a laser off a volley just outside the box in the 61st minute.

"We're showing that we can play (in these playoffs) even though they were calling us the underdogs," Mancosu said through an interpreter to MLS.com. "Now we're showing that we're on the same level as the others.

"So we're very happy and it's a great emotion. And then the public was so involved. Their affection was felt. They cheered us on all game and we owed them this win."

The storyline will be different for the Impact at Red Bull Arena. Montreal has never won there in seven matches and could be without mercurial striker Didier Drogba, who has been battling a back injury, but hasn't played in over month since refusing a spot on Montreal's 18-man roster.

Droga, who has 10 goals, told reporters this week his back is feeling better and he may come off the bench.

"I started in my career as a sub so I don't know why it should be difficult for me to be on the bench," Droga said to MLS.com. "I don't think it's difficult for people to understand I can be on the bench and without making it a big drama. Anyway, I'm not the type of guy to justify what I'm doing or not."

The Red Bulls need better form from their two top players if they hope to move on. Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips and midfielder Sacha Kljestan, the team-leader in goals and assists, respectively, were held to just two shots apiece against Montreal.

Wright-Phillips won the league's Golden Boot for the second time in three years with 24 goals.

"We were too satisfied with trying to play long balls and find Bradley off the first play," Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said. "By playing more, I think we could have really pushed them (Montreal) back and at 0-0 in the second half really started to put more pressure on them.

"But because we made some decisions to try and play long when they weren't there, it meant that we cheaply gave the ball away, which allowed them to get out on the counter and ultimately led to the goal that they got."

The Red Bulls will be without forward Omer Damari who received a red card in the first leg for a tackle on Montreal's Callum Mallace.

Updated November 5, 2016

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