HARRISON, N.J. – The clock is ticking on 2011 for the New York Red Bulls. Any momentum they had is now clearly gone following their 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena.
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Following their latest setback, the Red Bulls are left to look at a season that has spilled out uncontrollably as time is fast running out for them to mop it up. Now, they are left to once again pick up the pieces after more miscues doomed them again, a season-long theme.
“We came out flying for seven minutes – looked very, very sharp – hungry,” head coach Hans Backe said. “Unfortunately two terrible, individual mistakes changed the game. The third goal was poor defending. It’s more about the individual mistakes. I don’t think we played poor or anything, but it’s frustrating with that kind of individual mistakes. It killed the first half and the game.”
It could be chalked up as just one of those games, but it was an all-around poor effort from New York. Poor marking on a corner kick set up Álvaro Saborío’s seventh-minute goal to get Real Salt Lake rolling, then lackadaisical play on the second goal and poor positioning on the third doomed the Red Bulls to a 3-0 halftime deficit and yet another attempt at a comeback.
“We know we have very good players, I think that’s something we recognize,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “Sometimes, I think we’re a little too casual, that’s pretty much the only way to put it. We lose focus sometimes mentally; sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don’t.
"Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not any one individual guy that’s going to take blame for it. Putting yourself 3-0 down inside 20 minutes is making a very, very difficult time for yourselves. It’s a lack of focus and perhaps we’re a little too casual coming out of the locker room.”
Most concerning for New York is that they are a team in desperate need of wins to stay in the playoff race. To come out flat in a game that was close to must-win for the Red Bulls is something that puzzled the fan base, who booed their team off the Red Bull Arena field at halftime.
“It’s something that’s hard to explain because we know the type of fight we’re in, we know how difficult the playoff push is,” McCarty said. “So it’s something that each individual player has to look at himself in the mirror. We say all the right things before the games; we make sure we get each other ready to go as a team. Individually, sometimes it comes down to yourself — sometimes, maybe, we try to play too pretty.”
The team talked about getting their bodies and minds right for Saturday against Portland, as they face a Timbers side that hopped RBNY and now sit 10th in the playoff race.
Right back Jan Gunnar Solli said that his teammates “will be ready for Saturday for sure, I promise you that,” but after so much momentum from this past weekend now lost, New York are once again asking for their emotional roller coaster to take them on another high.
“I think everyone is now aware that it’s a must-win,” Backe said. “It’s not enough with a tie or anything. That’s the consequences and the conclusion when you go out Saturday.”