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The New York Red Bulls took a major step forward in their quest for an MLS Cup during the 2012 season, posting a fourth-place finish in the league standings and falling just short in the conference semifinals against D.C. United. The Red Bulls are still seeking their first MLS Cup in the team's history and new head coach Mike Petke believes that his team has the talent to move past the first round of the playoffs and make it all the way to the MLS Cup Final. With high-profile matchups against Sporting KC, the Los Angeles Galaxy and an early-season grudge match with D.C. United, the Red Bulls will have a difficult road ahead to return to the playoffs.

The New York Red Bulls were one of the original charter franchises of the MLS in 1995, beginning their life as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, but in 2006, the team was bought by Red Bull GmbH and now carries the moniker of the famous energy drink manufacturer. The Red Bulls have experienced highs and lows throughout their history, winning the Eastern Conference in 2000 and 2010 and making an unexpected trip to the MLS Cup Final in 2008, where they were knocked out by the Columbus Crew.

Fresh off the heels of a trip to the postseason in 2012, the New York Red Bulls have made a series of big moves in the offseason to bolster their roster, but they started at the top by hiring new head coach Mike Petke. Since this is Petke's first time as an MLS head coach, there is expected to be a bit of a learning curve as he adjusts to the speed of the professional game, so this will certainly be something to watch as the season unfolds. The squad has lost a variety of players over the past year to trades and other dealings, including Rafa Marquez and Kenny Cooper, the latter of which lead the Red Bulls with 18 goals during the 2012 season. Additionally, the squad also lost forward Sebastien Le Toux, midfielder Teemu Tainio and midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli.

The offseason certainly featured plenty of turnover for the Red Bulls, especially for a team that made the playoffs only a year ago, but the front office hopes that new additions like forward Fabian Espindola, center back Jamison Olave, midfielder Jininho and others will be able to carry the torch into the coming year. Ultimately, the team's success will come down to the team's established core of veterans, including Thierry Henry, who is in the last year of his contract, last year's late-season acquisition Tim Cahill and midfielder Lloyd Sam. Oftentimes in professional sports, this many changes over the course of an offseason could doom a franchise, but the Red Bulls hope that they have crafted a winning formula with their slew of newcomers that could result in the team's first MLS Cup in history.

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10/31/2014 12:44:51 AM on TCWEB1