A few themes have been defining the Red Bulls' 2014 campaign. Mental lapses in defense. Blown chances in attack. Being punished when the opposition can manage it. And most painfully, no real answers for how to fix these woes. Saturday night's frustrating 2-1 loss at home to the Portland Timbers reenforced these themes, as Portland found their first road win of 2014 and their first ever win against New York thanks to a Maximiliano Urruti brace.
New York's only goal came from a controversial penalty earned by Lloyd Sam; Bradley Wright Phillips converted it for his league-leading 10th goal of the season. Urruti would find the back of the net just before halftime, and pounced on a poorly defended cross deep in the second half to give the Timbers the win. New York had opportunities throughout the match, but were frequently denied by the post, the offside flag, and Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
It's hard to find much to be optimistic about in the performance, but we will give a confident nod to Chris Duvall, the rookie from Wake Forest who got his first start and looked confident and composed for most of the game. He appears to have locked the right back spot down for now. (If only the rest of the team looked as motivated and hungry as he does.)
RBNY will get the blessing and curse of having a quick turnaround: on Tuesday night, they will face Sporting Kansas City on the road. Sporting is missing a lot in defense due to injury and call-ups, but remain a threatening force at home. The Red Bulls will be hoping to snap their worst losing streak since May 2010, where they dropped four straight results.
Coach Mike Petke on the team's mental confidence: "Listen, I have been in this league long enough and I have been through a hell of a lot longer and worse
spells than we are in right now. So yeah, I think a part of it is mental and you have to think about Portland, for as good as they are to only have two wins; that's nuts. That's MLS for ya. I think we have confident players, but perhaps it is a mental thing perhaps it is a little lack confidence. I don't have that answer, I can try and find that answer you know as a coach, we try to find those answers but I am not in their head. But, at the end of the day we did enough to win this game tonight and it just didn't fall."
Thierry Henry on the problems that need fixing: "We gotta work. That’s it."
Luis Robles on the quick turnaround: "I think that’s part of being a professional. You have to be able to bounce back. Right now we’re in a difficult situation, we’ve lost three in a row so that means that we’ve got to find something to get us
going and sometimes, I thought, especially with the PK called for us, I didn’t feel like it was a PK so I was like ‘Okay, well, you know, our luck is changing.’ But obviously I don’t have all the answers, I’m just hoping that we can go to Kansas City, we stick together as a team, we don’t point fingers and somehow we can get a result."
Next Match: Tuesday, May 27th, 8PM ET, at Sporting Kansas City (TV: ESPN2)