"Like a youth team against adults": Gerhard Struber laments New York Red Bulls latest setback

The New York Red Bulls’ streak of making 11 straight Audi MLS Cup Playoffs took another blow Tuesday night, after the club dropping a 2-1 decision at the Columbus Crew.

They had gone ahead via a first-half strike from DP forward Patryk Klimala, then allowed two goals in the final 16 minutes – clinched by an 88th-minute winner from Miguel Berry. It was the 21st point Gerhard Struber’s team has dropped from a winning position this year, the league’s highest total during the 2021 season.

RBNY are eight points behind the seventh and final Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot in the Eastern Conference, and with 12 games to go have opportunities to make up ground. Though with those like Atlanta United and Inter Miami CF surging up the table in recent weeks, the twists and turns may not treat their postseason ambitions kindly.

“We can see the physical power from Columbus, but we have to be resilient in this moment and I can see in some moments, it is like a youth team against adults,” Struber said after the match. “And I think this is in some moments when they bring every power on the field, we can see the difference.

“These are big learning moments from some players, and this is very hard at the moment to see that, but in the end, this is the MLS and for some players, we can see on this level they have to improve that they can manage the game until the last second, then bring points home.”

Klimala, a Poland youth international who joined in April from Celtic FC, offered raw emotion during his own postgame media availability. He’s now at five goals and five assists through 19 games, but too many close games have gone against his new club.

“We are disappointed and we are pissed off,” Klimala said. “We talk a lot about it, but I think we have to stop talking and start working hard on the field because this is what I said in the first question.

“We play amazing when we score a goal, we just start winning and then one moment we just stop pressing, stop doing our work and our job. I do not know what the reason is, but I think the coaching staff and we have to speak honestly in the locker room because it is unacceptable.”

New York’s chance to bounce back arrives Friday night at Inter Miami (7 pm ET | FOX Deportes, FS1), a resurgent Eastern Conference club that’s unbeaten in six contests to reach fifth place in the standings. Miami are also coming off a 1-0 win at Toronto FC and have posted four straight shutouts.

Struber said the Red Bulls, a youth-heavy squad that’s facing serious rigors, have to regroup and find points. The Austrian manager is overseeing his first full MLS season, having last led Barnsley in England's Championship.

“I think you can see the situation right now is not easy,” Struber said. “It is a very disappointed feeling; it is very painful at the moment to say something. I am a little bit speechless, especially about the second half. I think after this game it is hard to reflect why we came into the second half in so big drops.”