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New York Red Bulls Vs. LA Galaxy: Match Preview

-- See SB Nation's Once A Metro for complete Red Bulls discussion and analysis

This has been a difficult season for Hans Backe and the New York Red Bulls.  (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
This has been a difficult season for Hans Backe and the New York Red Bulls. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
Getty Images for New York Red Bu

When the 2011 MLS schedule was released, Tuesday night's meeting at Red Bull Arena between the New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN2) looked like it might be a late-season preview of a potential MLS Cup finals matchup.

Instead, the matchup finds the Red Bulls (8-7-16) fighting just to qualify for the playoffs, while the Galaxy (18-3-10) have the most points in the league and are cruising toward the playoffs. Thge Galaxy has the league's highest goal differential at plus 23. The Galxy is led by Landon Donovan, whose 12 goals rank third in MLS this season, and David Beckham who leads the league in assists so far this season with 14. The Galaxy can clinch the Supporters' Shield with a victory Tuesday night.

New York will have two more games to play after Tuesday night's match, but both will come against playoff hopefuls in Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia.

Current MLS Playoff Picture

Eastern Conference (current automatic bids)

Pts. GP Goal Diff.
Sporting Kansas City 45 32 7
Philadelphia Union 44 31 7
Columbus Crew 44 32 -3
--
Wild Card (top four earn playoff bids)
Pts. GP Goal Diff.
FC Dallas 46 31 2
Colorado Rapids 45 32 2
Houston Dynamo 43 32 0
New York Red Bulls 40 31 5
--
Portland Timbers 40 31 -6
D.C. United 38 30 0
Chicago Fire 37 31 0
Chivas USA 36 32 1
San Jose Earthquakes 32 31 -7

* The top three finishers in each conference, based on regular season points qualify (six automatic berths) 

* The next best four clubs based on regular season points, irrespective of conference (four wild cards)