HARRISON, N.J. — It was another evening of frustratingly beautiful soccer for the New York Red Bulls, who failed to turn possession into enough goals to win in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw with Colorado.
Holding a decisive edge in the run of play, the Red Bulls kept the ball for a commanding 62.2 percent of the match. Despite that, New York were outshot by Colorado by a 16-10 margin and the Rapids also boasted a 10-5 edge in shots on goals. Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers scored the RBNY goals off of some nice build-up play, but other than those two moments when they caught the Rapids napping, the team struggled to create chances.
“We did well, we passed well, we did things well,” midfielder Joe Lindpere told MLSsoccer.com, “but we lacked what I think was quality. The passing wasn’t good enough in front of the goal. It just wasn’t quality. You do all this passing, then what? Nothing comes from it.”
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
The Red Bulls controlled the ball almost at ease with slow, meticulous buildups that forced the Rapids to chase the ball and try to contain the New York possession game.
Just how lopsided was it? Colorado did not manage one touch of controlled possession in their attacking half in the until seven-and-a-half minutes into the game, when Wells Thompson intercepted a Teemu Tainio cross-field switch and collected the ball before quickly losing possession. The edge in time on the ball clearly tilted towards New York from the start; in the opening 15 minutes of the match, the Red Bulls held possession a whopping 80.9 percent of the time.
The Rapids seemed to have no answer for the possession but were content to let the Red Bulls hold the ball though midfield before clamping down in the final third.
“When you control the game like that and you get into the attacking third, it is small, small details,” head coach Hans Backe said. “It has to be more creative to break down teams that sit back.”
The home side was clearly missing Dane Richards — away with the Jamaican national team in preparation for next month's Gold Cup — on the right side of the midfield. With his speed, Richards can stretch other team’s defenses with his deep runs into space and his absence contributed to the Red Bulls seeming to get bogged down. Time after time, New York would build up out of their back four only to confront a line of Colorado defenders 30 yards out from goal.
And the Red Bulls consistently lacked that final pass to spring their forwards into space to take the lead from the Rapids. By the second half, they were frustrated enough to prefer hopeful longballs and give up on their possession tactics.
“I think what’s missing, to be honest, is movement off the ball,” Mehdi Ballouchy told MLSsoccer.com. “If you watch Barcelona play, they touch, touch, touch. Even at the top of the box, they are patient. We need more patience.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer