New York Red Bulls at a loss for words after demoralizing home loss to Portland Timbers

HARRISON, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls are in a funk right now, and they are not really sure why.

The Red Bulls were left deflated and at a loss for words following a 2-1 home defeat to the Portland Timbers that extended New York’s losing streak to three games and dropped them to 3-5-5 on the season. Mike Petke’s side played well for large stretches against Portland and initially took a 1-0 lead, but that still was not enough for them to avoid dropping a rare second straight game at Red Bull Arena.

“I’ve been in this league long enough and I’ve been through a hell of a lot longer and worse spells than we are in right now,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. “Yeah, part of it is mental, but think about Portland. For as good as they are, to only have [two wins], that’s nuts. That’s MLS for you.

“I think we have confident players, but perhaps it is a mental thing, perhaps it is a little bit a lack of confidence. I don’t have that answer. I could try and find that answer as a coach, but I’m not in their head. At the end of the day, we did enough to win this game tonight and it just didn’t fall.”

The Red Bulls have been so hot and cold to start the season that it led to the team having a players-only meeting at the beginning of the week. The club has struggled in different areas over the course of the season and a failure to finish — combined with some opportunistic finishing from Maximiliano Urruti — was the latest glaring issue.

“I guess the toughest part right now is it’s not just one thing that we’re looking to fix. It’s a few different things,” said goalkeeper Luis Robles. “That’s why we rely on the coaches to watch the video and help us figure out what’s going on, but today was tough because I felt like we played well enough to win and it just didn’t work.”

New York will not have much time to dwell on the defeat because they are set to visit reigning MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday. A win there would not only snap the Red Bulls out of their current funk, and also inject some much-needed confidence into the frustrated squad.

“We have to be able to bounce back,” said Robles. “Right now, we’re in a difficult situation. We’ve lost three in a row so that means we’ve got to find something to get us going. Obviously, I don’t have all the answers. I’m just hoping we can go to Kansas City, stick together as a team, we don’t point fingers and somehow we can get a result.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.