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Landon Donovan and the Red Bulls are trying to secure a place in the playoffs

Landon Donovan and the Red Bulls are trying to secure a place in the playoffs

Posted by Liliana Castaño on September 29, 2014

Hours after Derek Jeter hangs up his spikes for good on Sunday in Boston, the Red Bulls will be across the country, smack-dab in the middle of another iconic sports figure’s farewell tour.

And while coach Mike Petke didn’t hesitate to compare Landon Donovan to the retiring Yankee captain this week when it comes to each player’s significance to his respective sport, the Red Bulls aren’t approaching Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Galaxy as a chance to pay tribute to the best player in U.S. soccer history. They’ll be too busy trying to find a way to take three huge points against one of MLS’ top teams as they fight to secure a playoff berth with five matches remaining.

The Red Bulls (10-8-11), are unbeaten in their last four games and have won five straight at home. Still, as Petke says, “From that nice run we’re now walking into a game that is extremely difficult. We know that it’s somewhat of a vital game for us.”

The Galaxy (15-5-9) has only lost twice since May 17, is on a 9-1-3 run since late July and is MLS’ highest scoring team. The 32-year-old Donovan (15 assists) has had plenty of vintage moments in the midfield for someone who was deemed unworthy of a place on Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad, linking up with a pair of dangerous strikers in veteran Robbie Keane and the emerging Gyasi Zardes, who have netted 15 goals apiece.

Meanwhile, the Red Bulls are finishing an unusual road swing, having been eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League tournament on Wednesday night with a 0-0 draw against El Salvadorian club C.D. FAS in San Salvador. Petke rested more than half of his usual starters in that game, but says his key regulars should be ready to go Sunday. He did stop short of proclaiming that Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Bradley Wright-Phillips — a trio that did not make the trip to San Salvador — would be fit to play the full 90 minutes.

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