Monday NY Gaffer: Point earned feels like points lost

Late goal leaves Red Bulls disappointed, but youngsters impress

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HARRISON, N.J. — It isn’t panic mode quite yet, but following Saturday
night’s 1-1 tie with the Columbus Crew, things quite as rosy anymore for
the Red Bulls.

WATCH: Full match highlights

Winless in their last six games, New York gave up a stoppage-time
equalizer to split the points against their Eastern Conference rival.

The Monday Gaffer looks at the game, New York’s state of mind, and the good and the bad from the result:

The late goal

The Red Bulls looked all set for their first win since late April after
scoring an early goal and producing some solid midfield play. Then, in
added time with less than a minute to spare, Justin Meram blew past
right back Matt Kassel and slotted a ball across the face of goal and
fellow rookie Rich Balchan managed to equalize in stunning fashion.

“We should have won this game,” head coach Hans Backe said. “Only one
minute and seconds to go and we had the ball in a good area, but that is
the way it is.”

Confidence issues

        

There was an undercurrent of frustration from the Red Bulls after the
match  — and rightfully so after they had found another way to drop
points. A month ago, the Red Bulls struggled with conceding off free
kicks, then they went through a stretch of three matches in which they
gave up a penalty kick. On Saturday, though, they allowed a late
equalizer.

“It feels like losing,” midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy said. “We have to keep our heads up and get ready for the next one.”

The Red Bulls are now left to regroup. They'll try to earn a
much-needed win this Friday against New England, and though it’s not
must-win stuff yet, for a team with Supporters' Shield ambitions at the
season’s start, they need to rediscover their winning ways soon.

Da Luz a diamond in the rough

Last Saturday, second-year midfielder Austin da Luz made his debut in
Vancouver, logging 20 minutes. The winger followed that up with a very
solid shift against Columbus — his first-ever start in MLS. After the
match, he said he “held my own,” but he did more than that. He made
smart decisions, logged a ton of acreage up and down the left flank and
served in some quality crosses. He also provided some nice interchange
with Thierry Henry for a most encouraging showing.

“I am quite happy with Austin da Luz’s performance,” Backe said. “I am
happy — I wouldn’t say surprised — but a little bit that he could do it
for 90 minutes.”

Kassel revisited

While Kassel had difficulty in containing the Crew’s Meram on that
last-gasp play, it was still a decent performance from the rookie right
back. A midfielder at the University of Maryland, Kassel played 20
minutes last week for an injured Carlos Mendes and came in for more than
70 minutes on Saturday to replace Jan Gunnar Solli, who injured his hamstring.

Far from his natural position, Kassel was smart and safe with his
defensive decisions (outside of that final play) and the totality of his
performance was more good than bad. Kassel, disappointed after the
match, didn’t hang his head at all.

“It’s still a learning process, obviously,” Kassel said. “I am still a young guy, new to the position. We’ll work on it.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer