The Red Bulls find themselves in a very similar position in 2013 as they prepare to take on the Houston Dynamo at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
That position sees New York tied again after the first leg ahead of the trip home following the weekend's 2-2 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium in comparison to the 1-1 draw in Washington in 2012.
The second leg saw the Red Bulls fall over 1-0 with former defender Rafa Marquez being sent off but McCarty hopes the Supporters' Shield winners have turned the tables in the last 12 months.
"That's something that we definitely learned from," he said on Monday. "You can't take these games for granted. You go down in the first leg on the road and get a draw, you can't come back here expecting to win.
"You know what happened last year. We didn't win. That's something we learned from. We're not cocky. We're not overconfident.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to keep all 11 guys on the field," he added. "That's something that kind of have been a trend for us in the playoffs is losing and going down a man. We have to be smarter. We can't make those mental mistakes that kind of put us in a hole early. We'll be better about it."
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