HARRISON, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls were understandably unhappy with having to settle for a scoreless draw with D.C. United on Saturday, but don't expect them to dwell on the result for too long.
Needing to display some backbone after two second-half collapses on the road in as many weeks, the winless Red Bulls (0-1-2) put forth a dominant performance in their 2013 home opener against their archrivals. New York dominated possession for large stretches and created some quality looks on goal, and although they were never able to beat United goalkeeper Bill Hamid — who was outstanding in the match — the club left Red Bull Arena feeling good with the progress they showed.
"Very satisfied for the most part with that performance," Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke told reporters after the match. "A lot of things we've been working on since preseason came together today: the ball movement, the off-ball movement, the angles, possession. I think we were very unfortunate with certain situations to not coming away with the goal."
Indeed, the Red Bulls were unlucky in not finding the back of the net against a United team that repeatedly conceded possession. Fabián Espíndola was denied by the crossbar twice and New York also came close in the dying seconds when Hamid cleared a goal-bound header that may have crossed the goal line.
There was no denying the frustration the Red Bulls felt after the match with not having found the breakthrough and still not having their first victory of the season, but they know there are plenty of positives to draw to build on as they move forward in the early stages of the season.
"The defense has tightened up, the midfield are playing well, we're adapting in different positions," said midfielder Tim Cahill. "I'm just bemused [with] the 'keeper pulling the save off of me. Things were falling, making late runs, so the rhythm is starting to get better."
Yes, cynics might point out that the Red Bulls still lack the type of killer edge that is needed to be among the league's elite. But they know that if they can continue to perform like they did on Saturday, the wins will come.
"It's a great performance from top to bottom, I think probably one of the most dominating performances that I've been apart of since I've been on the Red Bulls," said midfielder Dax McCarty. "I'm not really one to give the whole complain-about-luck card, but that's just unlucky. I don't know how many balls were inside the [six-yard box], cleared off the line, rolling across. Bill Hamid, give him some credit, some unbelievable saves.
"It's disappointing but, at the same time, you could see the confidence we played with today and Mike instilled that in us before the game and we were ready, we were ready. They had absolutely nothing. That was a complete performance and we haven't had many since I've been here."