HARRISON, N.J. – Thierry Henry sat in the Red Bulls locker room hunched over with a towel on his head. He had one hand on his knee and the other on his chin as he stared blankly into space. He was like that for at least 15 minutes and while he did not provide a postgame rant, one was not needed.
His expression said it all. Henry was visibly frustrated following the Red Bulls’ 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Portland Timbers at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, and so too were many of his teammates.
The postmatch atmosphere in the locker room belied the fact that the Red Bulls had come off a big win, one that moved them just two points off the pace in the Eastern Confrence.
HIGHLIGHTS: NY 3, POR 2
“We’re not happy with the way we performed tonight,” said Jan Gunnar Solli, who contributed to the rally with two assists. “We’re happy with the result, but we were lucky having 2-2 at halftime. Also, the second half maybe we could’ve created a little bit more and kept the ball in certain times of the game.”
New York fell behind 2-0 in a game that seemed destined to end their undefeated run at home this year, but two goals in the final minutes of an otherwise poor first half helped them pull level at halftime. Then goalkeeper Bill Gaudette came up with three critical one-on-one stops to keep the Red Bulls in the game and open the door for Heath Pearce’s late winner.
“The only positive was we got three points,” said Gaudette. “Other than that, I don’t think there’s much positives. We’re definitely not happy with the performance but you get three points at home and that’s what you have to do. … There’s definitely some stuff we need to work on.”
Gaudette refused the notion that New York may have overlooked Portland with a key stretch of Eastern Conference games looming, but he said that the Red Bulls’ resiliency was the character of a good team. Still, the Eastern Conference heavyweights know they need to vastly improve on Sunday’s performance if they want to avoid the type of feeling that lingered in the locker room after the win.
“We have high expectations of ourselves as individuals and as a team. That’s what makes us a good team,” said Pearce. “We finished the game with three points, which is the most important thing, but as individuals and as a group we didn’t live up to the standards that we set.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.