Monday NY Gaffer: Frustrations growing for players, fans
HARRISON, N.J. — The Red Bulls continued their “so-so” ways on Saturday with another draw, their 12th of the season. The 2-2 result against FC Dallas was perhaps a moral victory as New York, down a man, fought back for the equalizing goal. But in the grander scheme, it was more dropped points for the Red Bulls as they continue to see first place in the Eastern Conference slip away.
1. All Drawn Out – Despite a dominating first half — the Red Bulls took a 1-0 lead into halftime and held 57 percent possession, limiting FC Dallas to no shots on goal — New York again conceded a halftime lead to go 2-1 down. Despite having played more games than Philadelphia and Columbus, the Red Bulls have now slipped to third place in the Eastern Conference because of all their ties.
“It started two months ago. It’s one of those things for sure — we aren’t winning games,” defender Tim Ream said. “We have to figure out a way to get deeper, get three points.”
The Red Bulls had better — the Supporters' Shield is out of grasp, they fielded reserves and lost in the US Open Cup and now the Eastern Conference and perhaps the playoffs are fading away.
2. All’s Right with Agudelo – After scoring a second-half brace three weeks ago in a 5-0 home win over Toronto FC, Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo had struggled mightily. Not only was he not scoring goals, he seemed to be out of rhythm with strike partner Thierry Henry and the entire offense.
Then a first-half goal by the 18-year old forward on Saturday, a chip in the 39th minute, gave the Red Bulls a much-needed lead after a strong start to the match.
“It feels good, gives you a lot of confidence,” Agudelo told MLSsoccer.com. “It doesn’t matter how it goes in, as long as it goes in.”
Head coach Hans Backe cautioned that “it’ll probably take more time” for Agudelo to gel with Henry, but the goal and Agudelo’s positioning to get on the end of Dane Richards' cross is a promising sign.
3. Clutch Henry – If you’re a Red Bulls fan, you have to be in love with Henry right now. He scored New York’s only goal midweek in a 4-1 road loss to Colorado and then tallied a clutch late goal, down a man, to split the points with FC Dallas.
Henry has been hustling and fighting, perhaps giving the best effort of any New York player in both matches. At the end of the match, he was serenaded by the supporters clubs in the South Ward for his resilience and backbone, and Henry raised his right arm, touching his heart with his left hand in appreciation.
“In a way, you can say it was a good one [for us] to come back,” Henry said.
4. Silent South Ward – After the 4-0 loss in the quarterfinals of the Open Cup two weeks ago, the aforementioned South Ward had had enough. The long-suffering fans were disappointed (to put it mildly) with the club fielding mainly reserves in the match when the team was just three wins away from claiming its first ever piece of hardware.
So in response, the supporters sat silent for the entirety of the first half on Saturday, turning the usually hostile Red Bull Arena into a docile, tame environment without their unified presence.
Red Bulls managing director Chris Heck said he emailed the supporters clubs the day before the in-stadium protest but received no response.
"I don't necessarily agree with them, but there is nothing I value more than free speech," Heck said.
The South Ward returned to its normal, loud and vibrant self in the second half, helping to will the Red Bulls to the dramatic equalizer.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer