New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe has spoken repeatedly in 2012 about defending being the starting point for the team in each game.
On Saturday night, that message seemed to have been forgotten.
The Eastern Conference-leading Red Bulls suffered their first defeat to the Montreal Impact in their third meeting of the season, falling 3-1 at Stade Saputo after turning in a second-half performance that can be labeled simply as disappointing.
New York came out of the intermission with the possibility of picking up a result on the road in their first visit to the Impact’s soccer-specific stadium following a scoreless first half. But after Montreal scored two goals in the first five minutes of the second half, that all changed.
HIGHLIGHTS: MTL 3, NY 1
“We didn’t show up the first five minutes,” Backe told reporters after the match. “You concede two goals on the road, you lose the game. Overall, when we got 2-1, it looked quite OK but overall it’s three terrible mistakes. You can’t concede like this. You lose games. Of course, I’m very disappointed.”
Perhaps no mistake was more damning than the one Joel Lindpere made in the 74th minute. The Red Bulls midfielder mishit a back pass to Wilman Conde as New York tried to play from the back, and that helped Felipe find a wide open Sanna Nyassi for the goal that put the game out of reach.
While it was Lindpere’s errant pass that initiated that sequence, right back Jan Gunnar Solli’s failure to track back and get into the correct position following New York’s turnover also played a role in conceding the goal. And that was not the only instance in which Solli, who was filling in for injured incumbent Brandon Barklage, was beaten badly.
Solli also played a large part in New York surrendering the opener in the 48th minute when his loose marking on Marco Di Vaio allowed the Italian to receive a pass and strike the ball past goalkeeper Bill Gaudette, who started over rookie Ryan Meara despite the latter dressing for the first time in four games.
That was the beginning of the end for the Red Bulls, who now have a pair of league matches coming up against fellow Eastern Conference contenders, the Houston Dynamo. And if New York are going to have any chance at winning those games, they will have to quickly forget about a dismal defensive outing that Red Bulls fans are sure to be bitter about.
“Disappointment in the locker room,” said Gaudette. “But the season is not over for us by any stretch. We have some important games coming up and we’re back to work. We get back to work and figure out our mistakes and move on.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.