TUCSON, Ariz. – For the second straight year, the New York Red Bulls leave the Desert Diamond Cup as the fourth-place finisher out of four teams. They were outscored 9-3 through four games this time around and ended their two weeks in the desert winless.
And yet they’re more encouraged than ever before after Saturday’s 2-0 loss to New England in the third-place match.
“Our goal was to end preseason on positive note and, this is probably the only time you’ll hear me say this after a loss, but we ended on a positive note,” head coach Mike Petke told reporters after the match. “We were all over them.”
Despite giving up two goals off defensive errors – a calling card for the Red Bulls in their four games here – New York completely dominated the Revs moving forward, outshooting them 13-3 and hording possession.
And most positive, said Petke, was the influence of New York’s big names on the game. Thierry Henry, Juninho, Tim Cahill and Fabián Espíndola all had good looks at the goal. Were it not for the timely goalkeeping of Matt Reis and the helpful efforts of the woodwork, New York could have scored as many as four goals.
“The real positive side is how much we created, how much those guys influenced what we did as a team after going down 2-0, not hanging heads, pushing everybody on,” Petke said. “To us, that was a big turning point in preseason today.”
The negatives remain, however, as New York conceded first for the third time in four games and are still “giving goals away,” as Petke put it.
That’s natural with a new group, according to Cahill, who believes RBNY are on the verge of meeting their sky-high potential.
“We’ve had just a short time together, attacking-wise, we could be pretty special this year, I think,” he told reporters. The experience is there. With the youngsters, we have to lead them and guide them. … Once we tighten it up in the back and get communication going with our goalkeeper, it’s just a matter of time.”