HARRISON, N.J. – After a dominating US Open Cup win midweek, the Red Bulls reverted back to their subpar league form in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps at home.
Winless in over a month, the Red Bulls' losing streak was extended to four in the most acrimonious of fashions. Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips became the first player in MLS history to miss two penalty kicks in the same match, while the Whitecaps' David Ousted became the third goalkeeper in league history to save two penalties in a match.
Inside of five minutes, it looked like New York would be the ones off to a fast start, as midfielder Sal Zizzo, making his first return to the starting lineup since April after suffering a leg injury, weaved into the Vancouver penalty area and was hacked down by Steven Beitashour to earn the Red Bulls' first penalty.
Last year’s Golden Boot winner Wright-Phillips stepped up take the spot kick, but Whitecaps goalkeeper Ousted parried the effort wide to his right.
Things went from bad to worse for New York just five minutes later.
In the 11th minute, after a confrontation with Vancouver’s Kendall Waston following a corner kick, Sacha Kljestan lost his head and the Red Bulls subsequently lost their midfield lynchpin on the night. Engaging in a tussle with Waston, Kljestan swung an elbow and kicked out at the Whitecaps central defender, sending him to turf and forcing referee Jorge Gonzalez to produce a red card.
The Whitecaps wasted little time pouncing on their man advantage, as Kekuta Manneh put the visitors on the board in the 15th minute. After a long spell of possession, Beitashour collected the ball on the right wing and whipped in a dangerous ball that was tapped home by Manneh in front of a helpless Luis Robles.
The remainder of the first half saw a near continuous wave of Whitecaps attacks, as the Canadian side nearly doubled their lead in the 19th minute as Octavio Rivero saw his effort from 25 yards out slam off of the far post.
To start the second half, head coach Jesse Marsch inserted forward Anatole Abang in the hopes of finding the equalizer, and the substitution paid dividends.
New York controlled possession for much of the half, and had a golden opportunity to level the affair in the 64th minute when Abang was held down while going up for a header inside the 6-yard box.
But just as in his first go-round, Wright-Phillips was unable to beat Ousted. This time, the Englishman went for power over placement, and struck it down the middle. But Ousted was again up to the task, preserving the Whitecaps’ one-goal lead.
Vancouver doubled their advantage in 77th minute against the run of play as a counterattack left the Red Bulls exposed. Nineteen-year-old substitute Kianz Froese drove through the heart of the New York defense, turned around Red Bull defender Damien Perrinelle, and blasted a low effort past Robles to extend the visitors’ lead.
New York received a lifeline in the 82nd minute as Abang’s side volley from a Chris Duvall cross finally managed to beat Ousted. But the comeback would not be completed, as Ousted came up big in the dying moments, sprawling to his right to claw away debutant Manolo Sanchez's low shot from 20 yards.
The Red Bulls have little time to wallow in their latest defeat, as they return to the Red Bull Arena pitch on Wednesday night to take on Real Salt Lake. Meanwhile, the Whitecaps' road trip continues as they head to Gillette Stadium on Saturday night to take on the New England Revolution.