The mantra at Red Bulls training this week was simple and concise; avoid giving up the early goal. Needless to say, disappointment and confusion reigned in the locker room after the team conceded not one, but two goals in the opening 20 minutes en route to a deflating 2-0 loss to Sporting KC.
“I said to you against Columbus, against … I am not going to name all the teams that were ahead (early) against us, but it was bound to happen and it happened tonight,” captain Thierry Henry said after the match.
“The only thing I told you for a very long time, we won’t be able to come back all the time,” he said. “That happened tonight so we played the same way we played defensively since the beginning of the season but offensively we didn’t.”
The loss gifted Kansas City sole possession of first place, tarnished New York’s undefeated home record and put any hopes of a run towards the Supporters Shield to rest.
“Of course I’m surprised, it’s a big game,” coach Hans Backe told reporters after the match. “We’re fighting to be number one and win, but they’re number one. But we played so slow and couldn’t come out in our attacking game, of course everyone is disappointed.
“Poor marking on two set-plays in the beginning, too many lost fifty-fifty’s when you play against Kansas, too many unforced errors. It’s a tough one to go down like that, but it was a better second half. We created a decent number of chances but couldn’t really hurt them. They were the better team today.”
“That’s how we come out every game, home or away,” Henry compounded. “For the guys that follow us, that’s how we come out. I was here the other day talking about it against Columbus and everyone was raving about the goal and the win – I was talking about one thing – to start better. And we didn’t.”
Wednesday marked the 12th game all season where New York allowed a goal within the first 20 minutes of play.
“I don’t know. It’s like the cancer we have had the entire year,” Rafa Marquez noted. “It’s a question for the coach to solve. They are errors that are perhaps costing us points” adding that the team suffered from a “lack of attention, and not keeping track of our markers.”
“It was a huge game for us to get them at home where we haven’t lost yet … until now,” said a deflated Connor Lade. “We are really disappointed. Just the way we started, a lackadaisical start again. We can’t let that become a trend especially at this point in the season because it will come back to bite us. You can’t come back and score three goals every game. We have to start better and it starts from the back.
“(Sporting KC have) big athletic guys and if you are into coming out with the right energy and intensity, they will pick you apart,” he continued. “It’s been said countless times that we got to start better but something didn’t click and we’ve got to really adjust it at practice and make it better because at this point in the season, we can’t be doing that.”