SANDY, Utah – The New York Red Bulls shuffled their lineup for a lot of reasons on Wednesday night and for an hour of soccer it was working.
But in the end, Real Salt Lake snapped New York’s 472-minute shutout streak and their four-game win streak with a resilient final 30 minutes and a 2-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Playing the second match of three in a six-day span, the Red Bulls didn't start scoring leader Bradley Wright-Phillips or assist leader Sacha Kljestan, but the duo did make an appearance in the second half as the game started to slip away.
Among the five players in the XI who hadn’t started during the Red Bulls’ four-game win streak was defender Gideon Baah, who gave New York the lead in the seventh minute when he headed in a corner kick from Sean Davis. Baah started the first three games of the season, but had only played 40 minutes since.
“We were able to sneak in some good minutes,” Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles said after the game. “For the first 70 minutes we had it under control, but the elements were difficult."
In the first half, the Red Bulls (7-8-1) limited RSL to no shots on goal and kept them from much of anything else. In the second half though, New York began to look like they were playing uphill.
“Heat, elevation, short turnaround, travel. It's not easy,” New York head coach Jesse Marsch said. “But in the end I’m really happy with the effort the group put in."
Regulars Chris Duvall, Wright-Phillips and Kljestan came on, but couldn’t stem the tide as fatigue made things more difficult.
“We had some tired legs on the field and that meant that in some of those defensive moments we had to just sort of hang on," Marsch said.
The open spaces led to the game-winner in the 87th minute as Jordan Allen found an unlucky deflection off Duvall for the 2-1 advantage.
Chasing the game became even harder two minutes later as Aurelien Collin was sent off for his tackle of Joao Plata, which only served to delight the RSL faithful and deflated what would have been four more minutes of chasing the tie for New York.
“We wanted to put a team on the field that had some fresh legs and a team that could go after it and get a result,” Marsch said. “In a lot of ways we did that and this also allows us to put a team on the field Saturday that can go after the game."
The Red Bulls will look to get back to their winning ways as they visit Columbus Saturday.