HARRISON, N.J. — New York remain a middle-of-the-pack team in the Eastern Conference after a 2-2 result at home to the last-place Chicago Fire on Saturday night. The Monday Gaffer looks at yet more split points for the Red Bulls.
After last weekend’s 3-0 road loss to Real Salt Lake, head coach Hans Backe spoke all week about bouncing back. Well, it wasn’t a win, but the Red Bulls played much better and had far more poise than during their Rio Tinto defeat.
“This has to be a restart — a new start for the rest of the 10 games,” Backe said. "Of course, we want to win games, we need to win games. But the most important thing was to see [if] we could bounce back from the Real Salt Lake game.”
Fans, however, likely walked away disappointed with another yet another tie — especially as it came against the lowly Fire, a team with just two wins on the season. But the Red Bulls saw positives.
“I think that it was good for us, a good, hard-fought result,” midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy said. “It is something to build on now, even with tough games ahead.”
About those tough games ...
Playing at home against a team in last place in the conference, this was almost a “gimme” game. Instead, New York squandered an early lead to fall 2-1 down at halftime and had to fight back to equalize. But now tough games loom, including a road match against FC Dallas and home fixtures with the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.
“I think every time we play the so called top-teams, we lift our game every time,” Backe said. “We will see now. Anyhow, I think this is something to build on.”
Chicago had just a handful of chances in the match, leading Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere to call them “dead” for much of the 90 minutes. But the visitors scored on two of their limited scoring opportunities, putting New York in a second-half hole. On the first goal, some clever play down the flank from Patrick Nyarko set up Dominic Oduro, who split the center backs to position himself well for the goal. On the second score, which put Chicago up 2-1, the Red Bulls midfield was nonexistent.
“It’s a mentality,” defender Tim Ream said. "In the beginning of the year, we came in with a mentality of no goals and just staying compact defensively. As the year’s progressed, we kind of got away from it a little bit.”
Fit to be tied
The result was tie No. 13 for the Red Bulls, a number only bested by the Fire. The good news is that they continue to churn out points, but the bad news is that most of the ties come in matches in which they’ve dominated their opponents and should have come away with three points.
“It’s pretty frustrating just to have so many chances and to play such good football and not come out with three points that we’ve been looking for for the past month,” forward Juan Agudelo said.
All the ties mean that the though the Red Bulls slowly accumulate points, they have dropped from being in first place in the conference midsummer to third place, and they could be on the outside looking in come the playoffs.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer