HARRISON, N.J. – It would seem as though things couldn’t be any going any better for the New York Red Bulls, sitting atop the East while adding to their lead in the race to claim their second Supporters’ Shield in three years, but just as any quality side would contend - this Red Bulls squad simply isn’t satisfied.
Following a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact, the Red Bulls acknowledged their achievement in limiting one of the league’s most potent attacking threats—Ivorian striker Didier Drogba—en route to a crucial three points. There was still a faint air of discontent among some within the locker room.
After an early red card that put New York up a man and up a goal in the 15th minute, the home side did just enough on the night to gut out a victory. The frustration for some revolves around New York’s inability to truly kill off the match, as Montreal created some nervy moments after cutting their lead in half in the 68th minute.
“I thought maybe we could’ve managed it a little bit better,” midfielder Mike Grella said of his team’s performance in the second half. “We got the three points so we’re all very happy, but at the end of the game they shouldn’t have chances and they shouldn’t be involved in the game. There were a few chances that, maybe if we’re all a little bit sharper, we finish to really put them away. There’s still a lot to work on when we’re up a man.”
The issue is not exactly a new one for this Red Bulls side that has admittedly struggled when handed a man advantage, with fixtures against Real Salt Lake and Orlando City SC as prime examples of such struggles. It may not be a situation that presents itself with great regularity, but the ability to finish off shorthanded sides is one that New York will look to address going forward.
“We haven’t really figured out the keys to unlocking a team when they’re just sitting back with eight or nine guys,” goal scorer Sacha Kljestan said. “We’ve had it a few times this season, where we’re up a man and have really failed to put three, four goals in the back of the net. That’s something I think we’re going to continue to work on as we go to the playoffs because in the playoffs there are crazy things that happen.”
While not a perfect performance, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch made a point to key in on the most important factor on the night: the end result.
“We had some games earlier in the year that went awry in different ways and that we let slip,” Marsch acknowledged. “This game we felt that we handled ourselves for most part well. It was a little bit crazy in the second half but we kept our heads and we kept pushing the right way and we were able to get out with a huge three points.”