The New York Red Bulls are off to one of their worst starts in franchise history. Considering the history of futility that surrounds this club, that certainly says a lot.
Nevertheless, neither the team’s technical staff nor their players seem very discouraged by their performance — particularly after shelling D.C. United to close out their road loss this weekend.
“There was a ton of positive to take from this game,” said head coach Mike Petke. “For me, on one hand, a lot more positives than negatives, but on the other hand, negative because we lost. It’s a very jagged pill to swallow.”
“I’m very critical usually,” said Thierry Henry. “But if we carry on playing like we played in the second half in the games that are coming soon, hopefully we can get on a good run because there is nothing (negative) to say about how we played after 30 minutes.”
The stat sheet is particularly impressive, especially considering the venue. The Red Bulls outshot their opponents 19 to 12, owning 57% of possession to United’s 43%.
Their effectiveness on net is what swung the match DC’s way. Despite holding a six shot advantage in shots, United managed to put two more on frame than New York (five to three). That has been a problem all season. New York ended 2013 as the top scoring side in MLS. This year, they have managed all of six goals in six games while allowing ten, putting the Red Bulls at an unenviable -4 goal differential on the season, tying them for dead last in the league.
“It’s hard to find the words to describe how we feel after the game,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “We lost, but we probably played some of our best stuff of the season.
“It’s a minor travesty that the result we show for it is a loss, but sometimes, the soccer gods are smiling on you and you get lucky bounces here or there, and sometimes they aren’t. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves. Should have finished. The score could have been 4, 5-1 — and that’s being generous.”
Despite their early shortcomings, there is little to no despair amongst the defending Supporters’ Shield champions. While not ignoring their missed opportunities, the focus was more on the team’s progress. A forgiving MLS schedule allows for teams to falter early in their campaign; almost playing as an extension to the preseason. In that context, New York is gaining form, despite several setbacks, and believe it is only a matter of time before they break out.
“This is our sixth game I believe tonight,” Petke noted. “Now it’s starting to creep in a little bit. Still far from pushing the panic button, but now it’s getting to a point, a game like this, a game in Chicago, second half in Chivas where we couldn’t finish them off where we are going ‘what the hell is going on here?’ Overall, we are a good team with good players. We showed that tonight.
“Hats off to DC for getting the result,” he said. “At the end of the day, we were the better team tonight but the better team doesn’t always win. I am very optimistic and very excited about a lot that I saw out of my players but at the end of the day, we are in a result business and we didn’t get the result.”