Red Bulls rue "terrible defending" in loss to DC

WASHINGTON -- When it rains, it pours.

The New York Red Bulls’ defensive woes continued and looked to grow worse on Sunday night, as they lost in embarrassing fashion, 4-1, to archrivals D.C. United at a wet RFK Stadium in Washington.

The errors on defense came early, with Chris Pontius taking advantage of poor marking and scoring his first of three goals in the eighth minute. That paved the way for a three-goal first half for United, and a demoralizing defeat for the Red Bulls.

“It was about our defending, we gave away four goals,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “Every goal from D.C., it’s one pass, goal. All four of them. It’s absolutely phenomenal that they don’t have to combine anything.

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“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen in a game that four goals coming after one pass. It’s poor defending. They didn’t need to work for it.”

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The Red Bulls insisted there were no excuses for the shoddy defending, but Backe pointed to the suspension of Rafa Marquez and the injuries that have struck some of the team’s core players, including center back Wilman Conde and central midfielder Teemu Tainio.

“We don’t have the best balance in midfield,” said Backe. “We’re missing physical strength. We have good footballers, but physically we’re losing a lot.”

Victor Palsson was given his second MLS start on Sunday in part because Backe wanted more strength in the midfield. The Red Bulls, however, seemed to lack bite against United, who extended their current unbeaten streak in league play to six games.

“No excuses, they won,” Henry said. “And they deserved it. They were good, scored early and kept putting pressure, putting us in trouble. Finally, they were missing that, putting the goal in the back of the net, and they did that today. They could’ve scored more.”

“It’s been terrible defending the way we do defend,” Henry added. “We were going to get punished, and we got punished today.”