With so many New York Red Bulls players nursing injuries, head coach Hans Backe turned to veteran midfielder Joel Lindpere to captain the side against the New England Revolution on Sunday. It was the first time he had ever been given that distinct honor in his career and came in midst of a subpar season for him.
Lindpere, however, admittedly came up short.
The Estonian international endured his latest disappointing performance of the campaign in the Red Bulls’ 2-0 loss to the Revs, struggling to create many quality chances for himself and his teammates while also picking up a yellow card in the second half for a shove on goal-scorer Lee Nguyen that was as unnecessary as it was foolish.
“First of all, I failed as a captain,” Lindpere told reporters after the match.
HIGHLIGHTS: NE 2, NY 0
The loss does not solely fall on Lindpere’s shoulders, however, as another slow start plagued the team and caused them to go down 1-0 thanks to a well-taken strike from Nguyen. But Lindpere acknowledged that he and the injury-ravaged Red Bulls’ recent tendency to start games sluggishly is something that needs to be corrected.
“[In the] second half, we showed how we can play and how we should play,” Lindpere said. “After the [international] break, in five games we’ve [come] out in three games and [given up] early goals. We just talked in the locker room that we can’t have these early goals and we need to start playing. That cost us a goal.”
Part of the reason for the Red Bulls’ recent slow starts is due to all the players sidelined with knocks. Designated Players Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez and defensive standout Heath Pearce are just some of the players currently dealing with injuries.
While it would be a boost for the shorthanded Red Bulls to get them back for their upcoming home stretch, their returns are not guaranteed. Even so, the Red Bulls need to now dust off this forgettable defeat and set their sights on getting back in the win column with complete performances starting with Sunday’s match against the Seattle Sounders.
“Of course we have home advantage but still we have really strong opponents coming and we have struggled before,” Lindpere said. “That means the games start from the first minute and end after 90-plus minutes.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.