Back down to Earth. After a month of rising to beat tough opposition, the New York Red Bulls stumbled with a reduced roster against an underwhelming Columbus Crew, falling 2-0 on the road. Meanwhile, the New York Cosmos unleashed a barrage at Tampa Bay but failed to find the back of the net, settling for a 0-0 draw.

Bruised and battered from last week's win over Sporting Kansas City, the Red Bulls entered Saturday's game with Columbus down a number of options. Kosuke Kimura and Lloyd Sam were both held out of the game, while Thierry Henry was a late (and somewhat mysterious) scratch. Coach Mike Petke was suspended thanks to his ejection, so assistant coach Robin Fraser was forced to step in. New York was largely pinned back in the first half, requiring a number of key stops from Luis Robles to keep them in the match.

Just as New York looked to be getting an attack going in the second half, Columbus received the most dubious of penalties. It is still not clear what the call was; Luis Robles said after the game "I didn't see much, I saw Chad's knee go into my chest. But according to the ref, there was shoving, and I guess our team shoved more than their team." It was the third penalty kick award in three games for the Crew against NY (the last one earned Mike Petke a fine from the league), and Federico Higuain converted it to open the scoring. Higuain would later double the lead with a cheeky chip shot that sailed over Robles and into the back of the net.

With the loss, the Red Bulls fall back behind Sporting Kansas City in the East, as well as Real Salt Lake in the shield race. With Philadelphia now just one point behind them, next weekend's home match against the Union (Saturday, 8PM, NBC Sports) becomes a critical test as the table continues to tighten.

In Tampa, the New York Cosmos squared off against the Rowdies. Despite an impressive 12 shots on goal, the Cosmos were kept off the score sheet by goalkeeper Diego Restrepo, forcing them to settle for a 0-0 draw despite finishing the game with a man advantage. Alessandro Noselli nearly matched his stoppage time theatrics from last week, but was flagged offside to deny the game winner.

After two weeks of play, the Cosmos are locked in a four-way tie atop the NASL standings. They remain on the road next weekend to face the Carolina Railhawks.