Sad Bradley Wright-Phillips after playoff ouster vs. Atlanta
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

That's So Metro: A look back at the last decade of New York Red Bulls playoff pain

That’s So Metro. It’s not just a hashtag.

It has its roots in the playoff pain of a franchise once known as the MetroStars and now the New York Red Bulls.

Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Union in Round One of the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, in which the Red Bulls squandered a pair of two-goal leads and conceded an extratime goal by Marco Fabian that deflected off midfielder Marc Rzatkowski, is just the latest in more than two decades worth of postseason gut punches.

Here’s a look back at some of the more memorable, or forgettable depending on your fandom, moments of the past decade.

2012 Eastern Conference Semifinal

In a weird twist, although D.C. United were the higher seed, the Red Bulls hosted the second leg due to Hurricane Sandy.

Delayed by a day because of the nor’easter, the second leg heated up after halftime. Kenny Cooper stepped up to the penalty spot with a chance to give the Red Bulls a lead in the second half. He converted, but the goal was waved off because Theirry Henry encroached in the area. Cooper’s retake was saved, Rafa Marquez was sent off for a second bookable offense and Nick DeLeon scored two minutes from full time to send the Black-and-Red through.

2014 Eastern Conference Final

Bradley Wright-Phillips was the hero throughout the postseason run with four goals, including a 27th-minute equalizer in the first leg at Red Bull Arena. But Jermaine Jones put the New England Revolution in control with the 85th-minute winner.

Wright-Phillips, who scored 27 goals during the regular season to win the Golden Boot presented by Audi, was suspended for the second leg because of yellow card accumulation and Charlie Davies struck a brace to send the Revs to MLS Cup.

2015 Eastern Conference Final

The Red Bulls were Supporters’ Shield winners and got past D.C. United without conceding a goal in the Conference Semifinals.

Confidence was high, but that all changed in eight seconds. That’s all Justin Meram needed to stun the Red Bulls at the start of the first leg of the Conference Final. Kei Kamara tacked on an insurance goal for Columbus Crew SC five minutes from full time. And although the Red Bulls poked and prodded in the return leg, the goal wouldn’t come until Anatole Abang struck in stoppage time. Too little, too late. Or was it too early?

2016 Eastern Conference Semifinal

The Red Bulls roared into the postseason unbeaten in their last 16 regular-season games, including four consecutive victories. But Matteo Mancosu scored the lone goal at Stade Saputo and Nacho Piatti added a brace at Red Bull Arena, including the winner eight minutes after Wright-Phillips scored to send the Montreal Impact through 3-1 on aggregate.

2018 Eastern Conference Final

The Red Bulls set an MLS record for points in a regular-season and had never lost to Atlanta United.

In the first leg at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, then-Atlanta coach Tata Martino abandons his usual tactics and opts for direct play. Red Bulls coach Chris Armas counters by pumping the brakes on pressing high, but his message of “remain aggressive” was lost in key moments.

A 1-0 deficit after 32 minutes quickly became an insurmountable 3-0 on late goals by Franco Escobar and Tito Villalba. The Five Stripes advanced to win MLS Cup at home a week later.

Perhaps an addendum to this moment was the announcement MLS was changing the playoff format to eliminate the two-legged series and go with one-game knockouts at home seeds. If it was added a year earlier…

Series: 

LIVE YOUR COLORS: Download the free MLS app - The official MLS app gets a major update for 2019, making it easier than ever to keep up with your favorite club, check standings, watch videos and much more.