HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls are still undefeated, but certainly not without their flaws.
At the conclusion of a three-game homestand, the Red Bulls managed five of a possible nine points after drawing their second consecutive match at Red Bull Arena. Yes, a point is still a point, but while the team could take some positives from their 1-1 result against the Galaxy on Sunday, the team was not as pleased with their latest performance, also a 1-1 draw, this time against the Colorado Rapids.
The Red Bulls went behind in the 25th minute, as Gabriel Torres struck first for the visitors. New York then countered with a penalty kick converted by Bradley Wright-Phillips just five minutes later.
“What was troubling about tonight was…having a really bad start to the game where we wanted to make sure we had a good start and were on top of the match from the beginning,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said after the game.
“That was the part that was frustrating a little bit. We just didn’t come out and command the game like we needed to.”
Despite maintaining a zero in the loss column, New York have often struggled out of the gates in matches in the current campaign, conceding the first goal in four of their first seven games this season. Conceding first at home? Well, that could be a concerning trend.
“We don’t do ourselves any favors when we give goals up at home,” RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “Now we’re chasing the game, down a goal. That changes the entire dynamic of the game. Instead of being able to pressure them in their half and find chances, now we’re spraying balls over the top and, at the moment, it’s looking a little desperate.”
The frustration was written on many faces within the locker room as yet another chance to dictate the game from the onset was wasted as the early goal forced New York to chase the game. As the mistakes begin to pile up, the team has started to identify the issues leading to the early concessions.
“It’s getting annoying,” midfielder Sacha Kljestan admitted. “It’s not the way we want to start games. I think it just comes down to a little bit of focus. Our mentality has been so good to come back, but it’s like ‘Why are we putting ourselves in those positions?’
“Sometimes it comes down to individual plays, sometimes it comes down to just having a good mentality from the kickoff.”
The Red Bulls have come to expect more from themselves in Harrison’s friendly confines. But with each successive instance that New York finds themselves in an early hole, the task to overcome becomes that much more difficult.
“Especially the way these last two games have gone where teams come in and sit in on us, it’s crucial for us to not give up the first goal,” defender Chris Duvall said. “It makes it easier for them to execute their game plan. If they’re going to sit in on us and they get the first goal, then we have to push for it. We don’t want to put ourselves in that position, so it’s crucial that we come out and defend better and not give up easy goals.”
Still, they got at least a share of the points on the night. Is this a blip, or something more worrisome?
“I remember we’ve had this problem in the past at this club,” winger Lloyd Sam told MLSsoccer.com. “We’re giving ourselves a mini mountain to climb. We normally get a goal back but it’s too much to get another goal.
“One of these days it’s going to be too much to bounce back. We’d like to bounce back and get the three points. Tonight we bounced back and got a draw. It’s not really what we want at home.”