The Red Bulls sit at the .500 mark on the season after Saturday night’s 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake dropped them to a 6-6-12 mark. It was mediocrity at best at Rio Tinto as New York struggled in every facet of the game.
1. No Total Recall – After the match, assistant coach Mike Petke told MLSsoccer.com that he remembered very few times when New York strung together a handful of passes against RSL. He then went on to comment about the poor defensive effort and the lack of sharpness to their game. In short, this match was a dud by the Red Bulls, who came out flat again.
“We had a very weak performance today,” head coach Hans Backe said. “I don’t think I’ve seen us that weak before in one-and-a-half years. No energy, a number of unforced errors.”
It was a good display from RSL, but New York played just about their worst match of the year—and that that doesn’t bode well for their postseason aspirations.
2. Getting Rost-ed – RSL’s second goal, minutes before halftime, sunk the Red Bulls.
Rafa Márquez uncharacteristically sent a ball from New York’s final third straight to Kyle Beckerman, who then passed it to 17-year-old Luis Gil. The young midfielder fired a long-distance shot past goalkeeper Frank Rost that proved to be the dagger. Rost seemed unable to move in response to Gil’s shot, perhaps the side effect of a quadriceps injury he suffered last week.
“That is a strange one because I think Rost injured his hip or quadriceps so he couldn’t go for the ball,” Backe said. “It looked very strange.”
Perhaps more than the injury, New York fans should be concerned that Rost, brought in last month as a Designated Player to help organize the back line, wasn’t effective in clamping down on the Red Bulls’ frequent defensive errors.
3. Albright’s Return to Form – A positive from the match was the performance of right back Chris Albright, making his first start in league play since the playoffs last year. Albright looked mobile and relatively fit. His move to the back line brings some more defensive bite and allows Jan Gunnar Solli to push into the midfield where he belongs.
“I think I’m still getting to match fitness, but it’s tough to say how I felt out there,” Albright said. “We weren’t very good tonight overall, so I could have been better along with the rest of us.”
While he was being diplomatic, Albright was one of the few solid showings on the night for New York.
4. Where to from Here? – With their current form, there is a very real possibility that the Red Bulls could miss the playoffs entirely.
The club has dropped far too many points as of late, settling for draws and giving away leads and soft goals. It was hoped that last weekend’s Emirates Cup win would lift the team, but now, they are forced to lift themselves after yet another flat performance. They will look to get back in the playoff hunt next Saturday when they play host to the Chicago Fire (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer