For the first time this preseason, the New York Red Bulls took an early lead on their opponent, but the ensuing result made that small achievement meaningless.
The New England Revolution would be the team to come back from behind, handing New York their first loss of the Mike Petke era to the tune of 3-1.
“Tale of two halves,” Petke said. “First half, some very exciting stuff on both sides of the ball. Aggression on defense, creativity going forward, a balance to the midfield. The first half was one sided affair almost.
“The second half comes out, we were very flat the first ten minutes,” he continued. “No desire to get the ball transferred from the defense up to the attacking end. Too many balls in the middle played back to the same spot, the middle, back to the same spot.”
With Dax McCarty out of the match (a “precautionary” move according to the midfielder), Petke shook up the starting XI. Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Heath Pearce, and Roy Miller received the call at defense while newcomer Eric Alexander joined Tim Cahill in the middle. Josue Martinez earned a start at midfield while Juninho, Fabian Espindola and Thierry Henry controlled much of the attack.
New York came out to a slow start. Luis Robles was forced to come up big with an early save off of Honduran striker Jerry Bengston. Minutes later, it would be Juninho who would open up the scoring and change the tides. A perfectly played dummy by Henry found the Brazilian play maker in the box who buried the attempt.
Juninho would again become a factor minutes later curling a shot just wide of the net. New York’s first team would control much of the action in the first half, taking the lead into the second.
And that is where the collapse began.
Michael Bustamante came in for Juninho, changing the look of the Red Bulls offense in the second. New England came out the aggressor and their efforts were rewarded. An Olave handball in the box allowed the Revolution back into the match. Lee Nguyen would tie the match on the PK.
Five minutes later, a wide open Bengston nailed a header past Robles for the go-ahead goal.
“Unfortunately, it was time for us to regroup and we didn’t. We got frantic after that,” Robles admitted.
“(The Revolution’s) first goal comes off from too many touches on the ball, turnover, nobody puts out the fire, results in an unfortunate handball,” Petke said. “Second goal, the ball is played 20, 25 yards in the air and nobody wants to claim it for their own. Let a guy slip in and just openly head the ball in.”
New England wasn’t done there. Marco Jesic would find an open lane, freeing Juan Toja towards the net and past guest keeper, Ian Joyce in the 88th minute. “The third goal was a bad giveaway from the centerback that got put down our throats,” Petke said.
“They didn’t create three goals, we gave them three goals after a first half that we could have scored five or six,” he continued. “That’s what we call preseason. We have to sort this stuff out somehow.”
“It’s a work in progress and a long season but looking at our last three results, it is preseason,” Robles said. “A result is nice but getting things together and making this flow and getting that chemistry is priority.”
New York is now 2-1-1 this preseason. Their next match is this Wednesday against the Seattle Sounders, rounding out the first round of the Desert Diamond Cup.