After playing some of their best soccer for the better part the last three months, the New York Red Bulls laid an egg in New England on Wednesday night.
Since defeating the Revolution in their last meeting on July 11, the Red Bulls went on a scintillating run of form that had them atop the Eastern Conference thanks to a 7-1-1 record over their last nine matches. But their stay on the perch came to an end on Wednesday as the 2-1 loss to New England dropped New York to second while pushing the Revolution into the top spot.
For the Red Bulls, it was more of the same in their house of horrors, Gillette Stadium. Three weeks removed from a loss to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park - another traditionally difficult venue for New York - the Red Bulls dropped their second 2-1 decision of the year to the Revs.
“It wasn’t a good performance, one of our worst of the year,” head coach Jesse Marsch admitted after the match. “It’s frustrating to know that this was a big game with first place on the line and to come to a tough place and not be at our best.”
For the second straight match, the Red Bulls conceded the first goal. This time, however, they failed to overturn the result. Conceding twice on set pieces, goalkeeper Luis Robles took the brunt of the blame.
“The start didn’t help,” Robles said. “As a goalkeeper, there are two priorities: keep the ball out of the net and bring stability to the defense. I felt that personally I let the team down tonight. I should’ve done better with the first one and as I try to play the second one in my head, maybe it’s a ball I can catch instead of punch.”
The conditions at Gillette Stadium were a surprise to no one, but still posed quite a few problems for New York. Despite training on field turf in the days leading up to the Wednesday match, the Red Bulls simply could not cope on the night.
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“It’s always a tough place to come with the turf,” goal-scorer Mike Grella said. “The ball’s always bouncing all over the place and we played very direct, which played right into their hands. Set pieces killed us tonight. Those first two goals, we shot ourselves in the foot.”
The Red Bulls will need to sort out those issues quickly as another match-up on turf awaits them in Portland on Sunday (5 pm ET, ESPN2). But to make matters worse New York now must head to Providence Park without the services of captain Dax McCarty and Connor Lade after each of them picked up yellow cards on Wednesday that will exclude them from the clash with the Timbers.
“We’ll have guys ready to go. I’m not concerned about that,” Marsch said. “We’ve got a deep group here and guys that understand their role. It’ll be a good opportunity for some different guys to step on the field and show what they’re about.”