It seemed, on paper, that this was a game that was there for the taking for New York.
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Playing a short-handed New England side that had struggled to score goals all season, this was perhaps the Red Bulls’ best chance in recent memory to get a win at Gillette Stadium, something this franchise hasn’t done since 2002.
With four regulars out of the lineup for New England, this was the opportunity for New York to snap a three-game slide in league play and maintain their hold on second place in the Eastern Conference.
But everything went against the Red Bulls on Saturday night. Despite holding the run of play for much of the first half including numerous opportunities on Preston Burpo in New England’s goal, the Red Bulls went into halftime down 2-1, a Tim Ream own goal giving New England their second score.
Throw in two red cards in the second half and perhaps Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to New England is a moral victory for the team despite dropping points. The team didn’t break down, even after playing with nine men for the final 15 minutes of the match.
“We still played hard,” defender Danleigh Borman told MLSsoccer.com. “Two red cards is difficult to overcome.”
The result, however, was overshadowed by a horrific injury to Revolution goalkeeper Preston Burpo. Having enjoyed a splendid start to the game, Burpo was carted off the field midway through the first half, having suffered a broken right tibia and fibula. The injury resulted after a collision with Red Bulls winger Dane Richards.
The Red Bulls were able to put one past the New England backup in goal, a 48th-minute header by Juan Pablo Angel leveling the score, but the two subsequent red cards negated any advantage for the Red Bulls. With just nine men for the last stretch of the match, the Red Bulls were unable to press against an inexperienced Bobby Shuttleworth in goal and rarely pressed into the offensive third despite starting the game so strong.
“We had many opportunities, many shots,” Borman said. “We were attacking, attacking, attacking. We were a bit unlucky.”
It was the second straight league game where the Red Bulls started strong but were unable to press their advantage. Last Thursday night, the Red Bulls held nearly offensive category but still found a way to lose to Columbus 3-1. The positive for New York is that but for the two ejections—the Red Bulls did play strong when they were down just a man- the team could have gotten a result on the road.
“I think we’ve been playing well,” Borman said. “We just need to find a way to win.”
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.