After a pair of marquee wins against local competition in quick succession, a letdown in their second trip to Columbus in 2015 concluded a wild week for the New York Red Bulls.
Playing in their sixth match in 19 days, a New York side that had seemingly avoided the ill effects of their relentless string of matches finally showed signs of fatigue in their 2-1 loss to Crew SC.
The emotional highs that had followed back-to-back victories over New York City FC and the New York Cosmos earlier in the week lifted spirits throughout the Red Bulls locker room. However, the physical and emotional toll required in those matches had some ill effects that showed on Saturday night.
“Because we had some tired legs, we were a little bit late on shifting and moving and covering spaces,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “But also they’re a good team. They have [Federico] Higuain floating around, making good plays. They have fresher legs and, on the day, they’re able to get a grasp on the game more than we are."
A Red Bulls side missing the likes of starters Dax McCarty and Chris Duvall jumped out to an early lead through Anatole Abang, but fell victim to an Ethan Finlay brace as the Red Bulls’ winning streak was ended at three.
Dating back to their opening US Open Cup match on June 16, New York finished their grueling stretch of matches with a 4-2-0 record.
“It’ll be nice to have a few days off,” midfielder Sacha Kljestan admitted. “We need to recharge the batteries. We’ve been going nonstop for about three weeks and guys are tired mentally and physically.”
The second half saw a fresher Crew SC side take advantage of an increasingly sluggish Red Bulls team that could not break through for a second tally on the night. Despite the disappointing result, the effort was ever present in a team that pushed itself to the limit.
“The guys really emptied their tanks,” midfielder Sean Davis said. “Everyone put everything that had into it after this tough stretch of games. We’re really proud of the guys and we’re holding our heads high.”
An emotional Marsch, who was ejected in the waning moments of the match, shared a similar sentiment.
“Great effort from our guys; they dug in deep and gave everything they had," Marsch said, "We’re going to regroup and now get ready to move forward.”
Eric Giacometti covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.