Mike Petke laments "frustrating" performance, return to inconsistency in loss vs. Chicago Fire

Last week’s result was supposed to be the turning point to the season.

The New York Red Bulls claimed the gutsy victory was going to breed newfound confidence and life into the squad, serving as the foundation for a move up the Eastern Conference standings. Things were going to be different.

It turns out that was not the case.

The Red Bulls were handed a 1-0 loss by the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Sunday night, an irritating result and performance for Mike Petke’s side. Instead of being the team that impressively dug deep to rally for victory with 10 men against the New England Revolution last week, New York looked more like the erratic squad that has struggled all year to regularly piece together strong outings.

It was the same, inconsistent Red Bulls, putting forth an all too familiar lethargic performance, Petke said.

“A very frustrating game, a very frustrating game,” said Petke, whose club is now 0-2-1 against the Fire this season. “It’s one of those games that’s happened to us a number of times this year. Are we a better team? Yes, we’re a better team. But it doesn’t matter in this league, it doesn’t matter in these games.

“… The urgency that I saw from my team was only really the five to seven minutes after the goal. Other than that, it’s just playing through the motions and little bit of spurts here and there.”

Petke acknowledging that raises the question as to why he waited until the 80th minute to change things up with his first substitution. The Red Bulls were clearly out of attacking ideas well before then, failing to turn long stretches of possession into clear scoring opportunities.

New York did enjoy some good moments in the match, particularly through Lloyd Sam on the right flank and the forward partnership of Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips. But the Fire threw numbers behind the ball after Mike Magee opened the scoring in the 38th minute, and the Red Bulls were unable to muster up a response in a game that saw them put just four shots on frame.

“I just thought that we had a bit of possession tonight for large chunks, but it was possession with no intent,” said Petke. “Just willingness to play the ball backwards, keep the ball. We have to get opportunities out of that.”

A bye week now awaits the Red Bulls, which should give them ample opportunity to work on things ahead of a final busy few months of the season.

“We have 11 games left and then we have [CONCACAF] Champions League, so it’s going to be a pretty tough stretch,” said goalkeeper Luis Robles. “I think we need this break and it’s come at a good time. We’ll go back, we’ll regroup, we’ll train, we’ll take some time off and then get ready for Montreal.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.

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