The Red Bulls dropped a tough one this past weekend, a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in which New York walked away feeling like they should have drawn—if not beaten—their rivals. The Monday Morning Gaffer looks at four salient points from the match:
1. Possession is nine-tenths of the blame
In the second half against Houston on April 2, the Red Bulls held a staggering 73 percent of possession, and last Saturday against the Union, they finished the game with 65 percent of the ball. But all that possession created very little in terms of true goalscoring opportunities.
“It is very difficult when teams sit back,” head coach Hans Backe said. “It is absolutely the most difficult thing in football to break down teams who almost have nine, 10 players behind the ball all the time.”
It may be difficult, but this is a lineup that boasts a US national-team forward playing alongside a former French international and a star-studded midfield. The Red Bulls failed to take advantage of their possession and turn time on the ball into goals.
“One-way traffic, one team on the pitch,” Backe said. “[It's] ridiculous to lose a game like this.”
[inline_node:333523]2. Designated disappointment
Both Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez have outstanding pedigrees and boast famed club Barcelona on their résumés. However, neither of last summer's high-profile acquisitions has lived up to those lofy reputations of late. Márquez has been inconsistent and was moved from the midfield to the back line to try and maximize his effort. Up top, Henry hasn’t scored a goal in league play since Sept. 21.
On Saturday night, Márquez was up and down defensively and his set pieces were uninspired at best. Henry rarely looked dangerous except for a first-half stare down of a teammate. The Red Bulls' Designated Players are not shining brightly for the club, and the traveling support that numbered more than 500 on Saturday deserved a better effort.
3. Scoring woes
It harkens back to the first point, but the Red Bulls are struggling to score goals. Backe called the first half, when New York hit post twice, the best 45 minutes the club has played on the road. However, a 1-0 loss is clearly dropped points. New York have created multiple chances over the past two games but have just one goal to show for it. All told, the club has scored just twice in four games do far this season.
“We will score," Backe said. "This is the way we want to play,”
4. Ream is fallible after all
Center back Tim Ream had a solid match and was New York's best defensive player on Saturday. However, all that went down the drain in the 68th minute when his soft pass to Márquez was intercepted by Roger Torres, who scored then scored the game's only goal. It was a rare flub from the second-year player, who is known for his consistency and veteran-like distribution.
Ream’s next two touches on the ball were no-nonsense, long-ball type passes. After that, Ream settled down and held possession well. He will bounce back in the next game.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer