Defensive lapses, GK error cost NY again in draw vs. Fire

Mehdi Ballouchy - June 26, 2011

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For a third straight game, the New York Red Bulls committed a defensive miscue in the second half to concede points in Sunday afternoon’s 1-1 draw in Chicago.

After a 40th-minute goal by Joel Lindpere gave the visitors the lead heading into halftime, the Red Bulls should have been in the driver's seat against a Fire squad that has won just once at home this season. Instead, they made another costly blunder and walked away with only a share of the points.

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A poor clearance in the 58th minute by right back Jan Gunnar Solli gifted Chicago a goal when the former Norwegian international popped a high ball from the right flank back across the NY penalty area, instead of sending the ball out of bounds. The poor clearance fell to Chicago’s Marco Pappa, who cut across towards the middle of the area and hopped a shot towards the far post which skipped over goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.

Replacing Greg Sutton in goal, Coundoul appeared to misread Pappa’s shot and dove early, allowing the shot to bounce over his extended hand. It was a shot that could have been saved, but the episode of poor goalkeeping is typical of a recent string of play marred by lapses and errors.

"You know, some days those bounces will go your way, others won’t," Coundoul said after the match. "I think another day on a ball that makes that bounce, I would catch it easily. But once in a while the ball will take those bounces and you are left just watching the ball go in the net."

Last weekend in Portland, two goals off set pieces in the first five minutes of the second half and an own goal resulted in the Red Bulls settling for a 3-3 draw against the Timbers. Then this past Thursday, after battling back from an early two-goal deficit to level the score, another set-piece goal in the second half and a poor attempted clearance by goalkeeper Sutton saw New York lose 4-2 in Seattle. Sunday at Toyota Park, poor execution by Solli and then Coundoul doomed the Red Bulls from taking the full three points.

“I don’t think we talk enough, I don’t think we communicate enough on the field,” midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “Even if it’s just one or two guys stepping up, leading and talking out there, we need that more.”

And given Philadelphia’s 3-2 win over Chivas USA on Saturday, the Red Bulls tie sees them drop to second place in the Eastern Conference as the mediocre results continue.

“We were desperate for three points,” Ballouchy said. “And we were riding it well into halftime and then they had that goal and we started not playing as well.”

Although a win would have helped in the standings, that's a secondary concern at this point. The Red Bulls, who have won just once in their last 10 games including Sunday’s tie, want to familiarize themselves with winning again. With the only victory during the recent 10-game stretch being a 2-1 home win over New England on June 10, New York have taken just 10 points from as many matches. Sunday was a great opportunity to right the ship.

“I think the team’s psyche right now is disappointed,” Ballouchy said. “Everyone is pumped at the half [with the lead] and then we let it go.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer