The New York Red Bulls missed out on an opportunity to move within three points of East-leading Columbus after suffering a 1-0 shutout loss to rivals Philadelphia Union in Week 7, a result that was tough for RBNY manager Chris Armas to stomach.
“For us, it was a big game and we feel disappointed right now. It wasn’t good enough on the night because we talk about good enough being a game. Not half a game,” Armas told media postgame. “It’s unacceptable in the first half for us to show up without the energy and the fight that we normally have and the commitment. Plain and simple. A game of two halves. First half far off. Second half like us and that’s got to be the standard.”
The Red Bulls mustered one shot on target in a quiet first half that saw the Union take the lead via a well-worked maneuver down the right. A cross by Union right back Raymon Gaddis found forward Kacper Przybylko in stride for the 31st-minute goal that would stand up as the game-winner.
In the wake of their third shutout loss in seven matches played, the New York Red Bulls are now averaging slightly less than a goal per game in 2020. Captain Sean Davis said that the scoring issues are "no secret."
“You could see that when we can win the ball, play forward quickly, we can generate some real chances,” Davis said. “That’s something we have to continue to improve on and continue to find better, clear looks at goal.”
The New York Red Bulls have scored a total of six goals on the year – by Florian Valot, Cristian Casseres, Kaku, Daniel Royer and two by right back Kyle Duncan, one of which was a flub by the goalkeeper. Notably, current target forwards Brian White (5 appearances) and Tom Barlow (6 appearances) don't currently feature on the scorers' list.
But help is on the way. After letting veteran striker Bradley Wright-Phillips go during the offseason, the club acquired 24-year-old forward Samuel Tetteh on loan for the rest of the 2020 season. He is yet to be available for a match after the club officially announced his signing on Aug.11.
Armas opted for the starting forward pairing of Royer and White in Week 7 against a Philadelphia team that he called “one play better” than RBNY, highlighting how they “killed the game off in an intelligent way” in the second half. The Red Bulls brought on star playmaker Kaku at halftime and finished the match with eight total shots, three of which were on target.
“Before you score any goals, you have to create chances and that hasn’t been easy for us,” Armas said. “So as a starting point, you’ve got to step on the field for 90 minutes. And if you do that that way, then you have another five or six chances or another five or six shots. We’re trying different combinations up the field, some different guys and some different formations.
“The message is clear: It’s unacceptable to play 45 minutes of soccer in this league and expect to win,” Armas said in closing. “That’s the takeaway in terms of our taking a step forward as a team. And that’s not always easy to pinpoint why that happens. But it does sometimes. It was LAFC a few nights ago [2-0 loss in El Trafico]. And it does happen at times. We’ll take a hard look and now it’s pick up where we left off [in the second half vs. Union] – 45 minutes of intensity, aggressiveness, attacking, aggressive defending, guys that want the ball and guys that are driving forward and sticking to who we are.”