UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Much has been made about the Red Bulls getting just one win over their last 10 league games, but it isn’t as if the club is mired in a losing streak, having lost just twice over that stretch.
Still, New York feel a sense of urgency to get a win and turn around their recent trend of mediocrity that has seen them slip to second place in the Eastern Conference. And as they travel to Northern California for Saturday night’s match against San Jose at Stanford Stadium (10:30 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes), the Red Bulls are looking to kickstart their winning ways again.
“I think the most important thing right now is getting back on track for ourselves, get back in the win column,” defender Tim Ream said. “We’ve had a rough go of it with guys getting injured and guys like Juan [Agudelo] and I and Rafa [Márquez] being out on international duty.”
New York’s dip in form has come as the team has struggled with set-piece goals and made an unusually high number of what head coach Hans Backe terms “individual mistakes.” The errors have been especially glaring in their last three league matches, all on the road.
Two set-piece goals cost the team a chance at three points in Portland, a bad giveaway by goalkeeper Greg Sutton and more set piece blunders gave up a chance at a draw or better in Seattle. Then a soft goal allowed by goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul forced New York to a draw last Sunday in Chicago.
“Once again, we gave the goal away,” forward Thierry Henry said.
All these issues come even as New York continue to outplay their opponents. Backe noted earlier this week that the Red Bulls are prone to their own errors, not other teams necessarily outplaying them. Not only are the Red Bulls giving away goals, they’re giving away points, as they dropped from atop the Eastern Conference to second place last weekend.
The dip in form has placed the onus on the team to get three points, even if it is an ugly win.
“Whatever way we can to get a win,” Ream said. “At this point it doesn’t matter, we just need to get back on the winning track.”
Looking Fresh: Henry is hopeful that with the three-game West Coast swing now a thing of the past, the Red Bulls will be rested and ready for yet another trip to California. The team departed on Friday afternoon for the Bay Area and the captain thinks the long road trip contributed to their recent lackluster play.
“Maybe we didn’t have that much energy at the end of the game,” Henry said of last weekend's draw in Chicago.
Due to minor surgery he had on Wednesday, head coach Hans Backe will miss Saturday’s game. Assistant coach Jan Halvor Halvorsen ran the training sessions the past two days and was pleased to see how sharp the players were after some rest.
“Many of the players had two days off and they looked good in training today,” Halvorsen said.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer