HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls appeared to take a step forward with their 5-0 win Wednesday over Toronto FC, but any momentum gained was forgotten by the final whistle of a 1-0 loss to D.C. United on Saturday. The Monday Gaffer looks at the loss to New York's their bitter rivals.
Outmuscled – The Red Bulls once again held possession and the run of play, including a 19-9 advantage in shots over United. But New York lost the game in the midfield where it seems like DC won nearly every battle in the air and consistently got to the second ball to sustain possession.
“We just need to not get dragged into some physical football,” head coach Hans Backe said. “We can’t have that number of unforced errors because then we will get dragged into some physical football, and that’s not the type of football we want to play.”
Stalled Offense –The Red Bulls’ back line was overall tight with the exception of Dwayne De Rosario’s 61stminute goal, but the offense couldn’t crack United in the final third. New York seemed unwilling or unable to break down United, who was content to concede space and time on the ball but clamped down when the Red Bulls got a whiff of goal.
“Defensively they were good, they were solid. They limited our dangerous attacking opportunities, they kept a good shape,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “I think their main objective coming in here was to sit back and play on the counter. I thought they did that pretty well for the most part.”
Sutton Saves –
After some goalkeeper controversy the past few weeks, it seems that things have settled down a bit for the Red Bulls between the posts. It wasn’t an overly busy night for Greg Sutton, but the New York goalkeeper was effective, came off his line well and made a challenge on Charlie Davies that forced the United forward out wide with a bad angle shot, leading to a Tim Ream goal line clearance.
“Sutton did a great job of forcing him wide and putting him off track and off his run. I just kept going as hard as I could,” Ream said.
The stability of Sutton in goal the past two games is a good sign for New York during the stretch run, although rumors of a German goalkeeper signing persist.
Not a Priority – After the match, attention turned to Tuesday night, when the Red Bulls play the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup. Backe said that it will be mainly reserves and substitutes in the Starting XI for the quarterfinal match.
“I think we just travel with probably, if were a little bit lucky with no injuries, 13 outfield players and two goalies,” Backe said. “And it has to be two of these guys who played today probably as a starter has to be involved in the Cup game on Tuesday.”
Three games away from the final and a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League next year, will fans consider it disappointing to see a franchise that has won so little giving the tournament less priority than a league game?
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer