HARRISON, N.J. – Judging from the dejection in the New York Red Bulls' locker room following their match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night, you would have had a hard time telling the two teams had just finished playing to a 2-2 draw minutes earlier.
That's because for the Red Bulls, who were playing at home, the result felt more like a loss.
OPTA Chalkboard: Quakes run riot in second half at RBA
“I called it,” New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry told reporters following the game. “I told you the other day, if you let a team like San Jose have the opportunities they’re going to punish you.”
The Quakes punished New York on two separate occasions in the first half, coming from behind twice to tie the match. Rafael Baca negated Kenny Cooper’s fifth-minute opener, and then Chris Wondolowski pulled the visitors level with a diving header to cancel out a Dax McCarty volley.
Highlights: NY 2, SJ 2
That the Red Bulls gave up two leads was bad enough, but the manner in which they did so was even more damning. On both plays, the Earthquakes capitalized after complete defensive breakdowns by the Red Bulls. Baca and Wondolowski were both wide open on the plays.
“It’s not only individual mistakes, today it was ball-watching,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe told reporters following the game. “We know Wondolowski’s movements in the 18-yard [box]. We have looked at video and things like that, so it’s frustrating that we give away goals like that.”
New York could have even gone down in the match, as the Earthquakes came out of the intermission the more dangerous side.
Marvin Chavez hit a good look on goal wide, and NY rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara was called upon to make at least a couple of saves as the Red Bulls struggled to find their footing in the second half.
Whether it was because the Earthquakes were high in confidence after the first half or the Red Bulls were simply struggling against a talented team, the defensive errors in the opening 45 minutes were what the New York players highlighted following the match.
“It’s not good enough,” said Red Bulls fullback Jan Gunnar Solli. “We make easy mistakes. We concede two easy goals. Scoring two at home should be enough to take home the win.”
But it wasn’t, and now it is likely that the Red Bulls will need to sort out their defensive problems without another key contributor.
Already missing Teemu Tainio and Wilman Conde due to injury, the Red Bulls could lose midfielder Rafael Marquez if the MLS Disciplinary Committee decides to take action on the tussle with San Jose's Shea Salinas on a first-half corner kick that resulted in a broken collarbone for the Earthquakes midfielder.
“At least we got a point and didn’t lose a game, but it’s just not good enough," Solli said. “It’s one of those games you kind of want to forget.”