Debacle on the Delaware for Red Bulls

Union Goal Celebration vs. NYRB

By ANTHONY J. MERCED

imagesCoach Jesse Marsch and the New York Red Bulls spoke at length after Wednesday night’s loss at Sporting Kansas City about the team’s shuffled lineup and how the changes would benefit the club against previously winless Philadelphia Union, an Eastern Conference rival, on Saturday night.

How wrong that proved to be.

The Red Bulls (5-5-1, 16 points) were held without a goal for the second straight match, handing the Union (1-4-4, 7) their first win of the 2017 season on a second-half hat trick by C.J. Sapong. After the game, Marsch tried on his best spin-doctoring hat to find something, anything, positive about the Debacle on the Delaware.

“The game was lost by our inability to take advantage of chances that we created,” Marsch said. “Not sure why we are not able to finish off our plays and not score and not score as many goals as we need to. We’ve got to figure out a way now to get more leads, capitalize on more chances and that’s going to take the pressure off of our defense.”

Marsch’s team looked tentative, especially in the first half with its best chance coming from defender Kemar Lawrence. On several occasions the team’s top goal scorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips, made passes into the box instead of shooting. The tentative play resulted in New York having fewer shots (4) on target than their last-place opponents (6). Even in possession, a Red Bulls team that was supposed to be well rested couldn’t control the ball and failed to dictate the game the way they did during their three-game (all wins) home stand.

“I think we left a little bit frustrated,” the captain Sacha Kljestan said. “I think we came around in the second half with a good mentality, played up the field more, played on their end and had more of the game. Unfortunately it was straight to the back that lead to a goal, and even after that we were still on top of the game. We had a good chance to score, they make some big saves and then they go down the other way and make it 2-0.”

With two straight losses, the Red Bulls find themselves in fourth place with most of the teams in the conference having between one and several games in hand. Some opposing teams have figured out that New York’s press style can be neutralized by not allowing the Red Bulls to score first.

Next Sunday New York host the Los Angeles Galaxy, another struggler that has shed star players, a successful coach and is now led by Curt Onalfo.