Red Bulls search for answers after deflating draw

BY DAVE MARTINEZ

All credit to the Portland Timbers; they quite literally pushed New York around the field for the final 45 minutes of Sunday’s 3-3 come-from-behind draw.

However, watching the Red Bulls wither away in the second half sent out a clear message. This team is far from being “regular season” ready.

New York had a late start to an already condensed preseason calendar. The Red Bulls went through the entirety of the MLS Draft without appointing a coach. Once they settled on Mike Petke, they had all of five weeks to establish a playing style, regain their fitness and prepare for an arduous MLS calendar.

The lack of preparation time showed.

Not all was negative in their season opener. The first half of their Portland encounter showed promise for the future. However, it is the second half that spelled out concern for the present.

“I think that’s just a case of a bunch of new players, guys still trying to get to know each other,” Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty noted. “You see little glimpses here and there of what we were trying to do going forward.”

Another reason for the team’s second half malaise? Thierry Henry points to travel woes that saw the team stuck in an airport Friday night for over three hours before packing up and leaving Saturday morning.

“We didn’t prepare it the way – not our fault obviously – the way you should prepare a game but that’s the way the league is and you have to come here and perform,” he noted. “We did, I think for an hour, match Portland and also the way they were playing. In the last 30 minutes, they took over and we ran out of steam and they took control of the game and they scored two.”

Running out of steam was a running theme with the club. Fellow Designated Player Tim Cahill made mention of the same thing when discussing the second half. For as brilliant as the team’s veterans showed over the opening 45 minutes, they seldom if ever made an impact in the second half.

Even New York’s brightest star on this night was not happy with the team’s performance. Fabian Espindola caused headaches early and often for the Portland backline. His efforts earned him a vital brace to start the match. However, when comparing his former team to his current situation, the Argentine striker minced no words.

“RSL have been together for five years,” Espindola noted. “They know how to handle the ball. I think we have to learn first, try to keep it and kill the game.”

When asked how long that may take, he simply quipped, “I hope soon.”

With plenty of blame and excuses to go around, it was Petke who shouldered the bulk of the responsibility for the result while praising his team for their efforts.

“We came out with a mindset (in the second half) that we needed to save the lead instead of keep doing what we were doing in the first half,” Petke said. “That falls on the coaching staff first and foremost. Maybe we should have made it clearer.

“The guys battled,” he continued. “At the end of the day, they battled and there are guys in that locker room that are crushed right now. To see that kind of attitude, that letdown after scoring three goals on the road and getting a point on the road – which in MLS is what you want to do – it is great to see them pissed off.”

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32 Responses to Red Bulls search for answers after deflating draw

  1. Aguinaga says:

    Work in progress, as expected. We’ll take the point in a hostile environment against a hungry and much younger Portland team and look forward to seeing them again later this year.

    • Ben says:

      Next time the Timbers won’t spot you two goals.

      • Aguianga says:

        No worries, won’t need it.

        Portland 2012
        Home: 7-4-6
        Away: 1-12-4

        Portland has nowhere to go but up on away form, but will still mostly fail when it doesn’t play 12 v 11. ;)

    • Gary says:

      Later this year? You punching both of our tickets to the MLS Cup final already?? Otherwise, we’ll see you next year.

    • burnsbabe says:

      There isn’t a later this year. We’re still on the unbalanced schedule and you guys are Eastern Conference. This was our one shot at each other this season.

  2. Conrad says:

    Weird read on this game. Portland looked great in the second half, largely because NYRB seemed to have an insurmountable lead after pushing the Timbers around. Generally, teams with the lead look poor trying to bunker and hold the lead. Portland had one goal (Ngabe’s) looked clearly offside (although they didn’t get a clear penalty, either). They won on a lucky bounce own-goal, although it was Portland’s pressure that made it. Each team got a point; it feels that Portland one because they had the momentum late.

    Most worrying: Henry. He looked terrible. Two awkward dives after being dispossessed. Had a one-v-one and the second half and DIDN’T run at the defender. He was alone, true, but seriously? Thierry Henry passes up a one-v-one like he’s Dax (Little Feet of Concrete™) McCarthy. THAT is worrisome.

    Also, Ream is better than Pearce. At least in a Red Bulls uniform.

    Also also, surprisingly how quickly I no longer hate Espindola. The haircut helps, I guess.

    • Igor says:

      Nagbe was not offside because the ball came to him off the NY goalie’s hands. That negates the offside position he was in.

      • Ron says:

        Wrong. Read the laws of the game again.

        Per Fifa: “What does gaining an advantage by being in that position mean?
        The International Football Association Board defines it as
        - playing a ball that rebounds off a post or the crossbar after having been in an offside position, or
        - playing a ball that rebounds off an opponent after having been in an offside position.”

  3. Sean says:

    A point on the road is good, especially when you’re in an environment like that on turf and after severe travel problems. There were some positives to take from the play. And, some things to work on.

    New York!

    • Chupacabra says:

      Being stuck in an airport for three hours is not a “severe travel problem” – it’s an excuse, and not a very good one as Henry and company have probably spent many a late night out clubbing two nights before a match.

      • Allegre says:

        I need to remember to quote him the next time my business meeting prevents me from “preparing”.

  4. Kevin_Amold says:

    So they still left Saturday morning, in preparation of a Sunday evening game. Am I the only one that thinks the travel hangups shouldn’t have impacted the team much? I guess maybe it would have allowed them to get used to the time change better? Maybe there was a training session that didn’t happen as a result?

    I don’t know. I probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

    • Chupacabra says:

      I frequently travel from coast to coast, and the east-to-west trip is much easier to deal with than the west-to-east trip when it comes to acclimating to the time change. But in both cases it’s only a few hours difference and shouldn’t affect anyone in good physical shape very much, if at all. The Portland match was played at a reasonable hour even if NY hadn’t quite adjusted yet. The travel issue is a poor excuse. The real issue is that the Red Bulls back line is very weak – same old Metro.

      • T-lover says:

        You are joking right? any one who has traveled, knows that it takes a toll on you physically. Its not an excuse, but a fact. Maybe its the reason the Impact is leaving seattle, and staying in portland till next sunday?

        • RAMONE says:

          So we are going to excuse Sylvestre too since he flew Paris to Portland on Thursday/Friday and joined the team after being away for 3 weeks (with just 1 week with them all preseason)?

          Both teams had some early season slop. The former ManU/Arsenal center defender gift wrapped two goals for RB. My sense is that both teams will tighten things up in the back as the season goes along. Altitude, heat, cold and long travel are simply a part of playing in MLS and all have different effects on different teams. Sure they effect players but there is absolutely no sense complaining about it since every team in the league has to deal with it.

  5. Coach K says:

    Hats off to Portland for really kicking the RB”s around in the second 1/2. However, am I the only one that noticed how poor/invisable Henry was the entire game? His best move was to feign injury for 4 minutes to help kill the clock? Clearly this is a work in progress and I support Petke making subs but he has to be even braver and bench Henry at 1/2 time or shortly thereafter for someone younger with wheels like a Bartledge or Connor Lade.Maybe it was the trip or the turf but he is a supposed pro so having Henry and even old man Junniho in the second half was like an 11 v 9 mix and Dax had to do double time along with Olave, so I was not surprised to see RB capitulate in the second half?

  6. Dan in New York says:

    Very little from Cahill and Henry in the first half or the second of this game. It’s their veteran leadership you’d think would be vital to preserve a 2nd half lead in a hostile environment. Being “tired” is kind of a lame excuse (and I usually cut Henry a lot of slack.) I’m not sure what Cahill has added to this team since he came on board.

  7. az18 says:

    So much negative. How about some positive. the young Ruben Bover for example. I was not expecting him to get the start. He didnt seem to have much impact on the game, i was actually expecting to see lloyd sam there, but if he impressed the coaches enough to get the start, then that is encouraging!

    • Joamiq says:

      It was pretty clear from preseason that Bover would be in the starting lineup. He had a solid first half, but a poor second half. Hopefully he can build on that. He does seem to be a nice find so far.

  8. Brain Guy says:

    Very little indeed from either DP. Henry drifted in and out, tried to make the spectacular/cheeky play, then disappeared for stretches. And Cahill, while energetic and professional, has yet to really put his stamp on a match. I am thinking/hoping that Juninho’s searching passes will work better when they don’t skip around on artificial turf, but I wish he had gotten more involved in the final third. Olave was a statue on Valeri’s goal (though I’m not sure anyone could have stopped that move), but also froze on the rebound that led to another goal. The entire team looked like a group that was still learning to play together. This is where Petke will be put to the test.

    • yameson says:

      +1 Red Bulls did look like they were still figuring each other out. I think it is significant that it was the two RSL players–who have played together for a while–who scored.

  9. el paso tx says:

    Henry is another marquez and Henry needs to step it up. As for Cahil, he reminds me of nery castillo when he came to the fire, a lot of energy but no creativity and I actfually think cahil should play at top alone and henry some where were his experience pays. As for timbers, if they get their defense right, then they will be a very scary team since their offense is going to be what sounders need but their goalkeeper situation is not good. At the end of the day, henry and his young coach will have mix feelings all year long and timbers will strugle with their defense.

    • Allegre says:

      I agree. The Cahill experiment is now in its second year. He is a front man, not a midfielder. Better to withdraw TH and put him up front.

    • T-lover says:

      The NYRB redbulls, will be fine. They will be top two in the east. Playing on turf, is not what Henry likes to do. Also Henry scored 18 plus games last year, DON’T EVER COMPARE HIM WITH RAFA.

  10. Henry says:

    The late flight meant I had no chance on a breakaway in which no one was within 20 yards of me. How do you expect me to score when we are up a goal and there are no defenders in sight?

  11. Adam M. says:

    Cahill is great with his head and Juninho is one of the planet’s best strikers of the ball. This isn’t complicated. Cahill needs to be in the box as often as possible instead of playing in no-man’s land and Juninho needs to be closer forward to pump balls into the box. Red Bulls are doing the right thing when Juninho connects with Cahil’s head and madness in the box ensues. Henry and Espindola need to churn, run at defenders, open channels and get fouled (because, you know, Juninho will be on frame 85% of the time).

  12. tom says:

    Portland’s 1st game of the new season featured centerbacks who had never played together. Silvestre, for all his experience in England, took Ricketts by surprise on the first goal, and stabbed at the ball and got beaten on the second goal. I’d say that could be accurately described as spotting 2. For most of the game the Red Bulls were the ones under unremitting attack,. Shots and shots on target accurately showed a 2 to 1 advantage in attacking pressure.

  13. mcm says:

    Watched the game twice and did not see much promising from the Red Bulls. I thinking having any one of there retired superstars is great, but 3 on the field. Is begging for collapses. I bet Henry did not go full 90 for years before he came to NY. I would bet the same is true of cahill and Junino, but not sure.

    Poor Mcarty had to do all the work.

  14. felipe says:

    That crowd was CRAZY -they absolutely willed the Timbers to those second half goals- i thought a point was ok for NYRB, and well earned for Portland. As they say “a fair result”

  15. Paul says:

    What I saw was a NY team that took advantage of two horrible mistakes. NY i don’t think took the game to portland at all. without the mistakes by Silvestre NY doesn’t go in at half up by 2. NY did have some good moments in the 1st, but it was mainly a back and forth 1st half with portland gaining the upper hand towards the end of the 1st half. Henry was non existent. NY needs more work. Portland needs to clean up mistakes. Portland was a much more dynamic team and should be exciting to watch this season on the attacking end. Also I don’t see what last years away record has anything to do with this years team. It’s completely a new team and new coach.

  16. Bertolucci says:

    Agree on all points here.
    How can anyone say “fair result” with the mistakes

    Take out the miscommunications and poor play of single individuals and its a 2-1 game to Portland

    Reminds me of the last time the energy drinks came to Portland… 3-3 tie under nohn spencer. There luck will run out soon enough

  17. Pete says:

    NYRB suppose to have a training on Saturday , as they were flying in on Friday . So basically they went two days without training , which takes away from your fitness balance .
    Yes two defender mistakes , but not taking anything away from Timbers but Morufo had plenty do do with all of their goals . First goal , timbers get foul after Miller and Nagbe jump to the ball miller gets elbowed and goes down . Should be foul for RB , cross in ball goes out into the field pass to valeri 1-1. 2nd goal for timbers after initial shot that is saved bu Robles striker is on offside position , Nagbe scores ( he wasn’t offside) but bc of the striker being offside our defender is on him .should be offside.3rd goal was after evident foul on Juninho gets stomped while he is trying to get the ball( that is a dangerous play , usually awarded a yellow. Morufo was whistling soft fouls , but when Portland should be awarded PK he didn’t . We need better referiees in this league , as soon as possible . Very entertaining game , and if NY would have win it wouldn’t be fair .