HARRISON, N.J. – The main positive for the New York Red Bulls was that they did not concede an early goal again. The negatives? Almost everything else.
The Red Bulls suffered their second home defeat of the season on Saturday, falling 2-0 to the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena. It was a match that further magnified just how inconsistent New York has been this year, especially as of late, and puts them in a tough spot in terms of making the postseason with two matches to go.
“We had the same type of game against Kansas City, the only thing was that they did not score early, but we got what we deserved,” Thierry Henry told reporters after the match. “They’re a better team, more organized, wanted it more. Having said that, we’re still not out.”
The Red Bulls, who are 4-5-2 against teams currently in Eastern Conference playoff spots, are still be in the thick of things in terms of the playoff picture. But the players know that the up-and-down performances need to be corrected quickly if they are going to advance from the tight Eastern Conference and make a run at MLS Cup.
“It’s definitely worrisome,” said Brandon Barklage. “The only positive that I can take out of this game is that we didn’t concede an early goal. But we didn’t respond like a championship-caliber team does and we paid for it.”
The Fire opened the match looking the better side, seemingly trying to take advantage of New York’s recent habit of giving up goals early. The Red Bulls withstood the pressure and settled in but were still unable to create many quality looks in front of goal.
That allowed for Chicago to take the lead through the first of two second-half goals from Sherjill MacDonald inthe 65th minute and the Red Bulls never appeared capable of responding, their attack looking disjointed and out of rhythm.
“It kind of looked like if a team was going to score, it was going to be Chicago and it did happen,” said Henry. “Therefore after that, it was kind of more difficult for us.”
New York’s inability to create more than a handful of half-chances against a stingy Fire defense was a sign of concern, but the team admitted that so were the easy goals the defense let up.
On both goals, MacDonald raced in on goalkeeper Luis Robles after beating the Red Bulls backline with well-timed runs, plays that show New York has a lot of correcting to do before their next game against Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 20.
“It’s one of those games, you take it on the chin and you go look at the tape and you see where we can get better because we can get better,” said Dax McCarty. “We’re still a work in progress and there’s only two games left in the season and we have some work to do to get in the playoffs.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.