It was a night when most RBNY fans had accepted the fact that winning a match had become crucial if the Red Bulls were going to make the playoffs. A seven-game winless streak had placed the Bulls in the lower rankings of the Eastern Conference, with rivals having played fewer games than RBNY, but sitting comfortable atop the Conference.
Last weekend, all the players and even Coach Hans Backe stated that the match against the Fire was “a step in the right direction.” A step that clearly only eluded to that match, as the team seemed in disarray during the first half at the Gillette Stadium while playing New England Revolution. The first half saw 10 individual players vying for glory, but instead allowing two goals by the rivals, forcing RBNY’s hand and showing a more united team in the second half.
Thierry Henry did not make the trip to New England, as his Achilles acted up after practice on Thursday, leaving Backe with some decisions to make. Coundoul would guard the net, fully aware that he needed to make a positive return to the game, with the first half being a mediocre attempt, but the second half seeing four saves by the Senegalese. The back four may be to blame for not defending and leaving Bouna helpless, but on paper, the back four seemed like a solid choice including Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Rafa Marquez and Chris Albright. Midfield consisted of the regulars; Lindpere, Tainio, McCarty and Ballouchy, with Richards and Agudelo on attack in the front.
For RBNY, Gillette Stadium and New England Revolution is more than a rivalry, RBNY has yet to win a match at this stadium since 2002. Would that not give them more incentive to win a match as opposed to seeking individual glory?
The first half left RBNY fans stunned; Red Bull defense seemed nonexistent, allowing the Revolution’s Caraglio his first goal in the 15th minute, leaving RBNY players grasping at any opportunity to get the ball. This tactic seemed to fail the Red Bulls and in the 37th minute, Caraglio found the net again, putting the Revolution up by two goals as the halftime whistle blew.
As the second half started, it was a different team that emerged from the locker room; they were fully aware that everything had to be altered. The second half would belong to RBNY’s Dane Richards, who found the net twice to equalize for the Red Bulls. The first of these coming in the 53rd minute assisted by Tim Ream, while the second came merely minutes from the final whistle in the 87th, this time assisted by Joel Lindpere. These goals would make it five for Richards this season, with the last goal from Dane occurring on June 23rd.
So, again RBNY showed that they can make a comeback but equalizing is simply not enough; this team appears stellar on paper, but the chemistry on the field seems to be missing, leaving the team winless in the last 14 games. The game was not without suspense as many believed that RBNY was robbed of two penalty kicks, both coming from the agile Dax McCarty. Instead of being granted a penalty kick, McCarty was on the receiving end of a yellow card for diving in the 44th. Besides that, Teemo Tainio was sent off following two yellow cards for a tackle on Caraglio in the 49th, and a foul on Joseph in the 69th. Inevitably, that means that Tainio will not play against the LA Galaxy on Sunday, August 28th, leaving Auvray to fill that position.
With Rafa wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of TH14, one cannot wonder how this $4.8 million dollar player has seemingly underperformed with RBNY. A player of such talent seems lacking in his desire to play, as well as the fact that his corner kicks seldom lead to goals for RBNY. And once again, this match saw only one close chance for Rafa in the 34th.
This tie has put RBNY in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, 8 points behind leaders Columbus Crew. Backe is still positive that the play off season is not lost for RBNY, stating that they need to win five games in the remaining eight of their season. It may not seem like an impossible goal, but with a team that has been so inconsistent, even that mission may be one that could be lost on the Red Bulls.
As for the wildcard option; it may be the only hope for RBNY if they continue playing inconsistently from week to week. If the play off season were to start today, RBNY would be one of the four wildcard entries, alongside Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas. Not exactly an easy feat.
The game ended with RBNY clearly in possession of the ball with 62%, however New England did the same amount of damage as the Bulls with less than half of the possession. Not a comforting statistic for any RBNY fan hoping to make the playoff season. The next three matches include LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Dallas. Can RBNY finally show everyone why they are considered one of the better teams of the league, or is this season done for RBNY?
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