When Peguy Luyindula scored at the death to tie Sunday's match against Chivas USA, the stands erupted and the players mobbed the hero as they celebrated the hard-earned point.
It was a much different scene on the sideline, where Mike Petke let down his shoulders in a sigh of relief but showed no signs that he was happy.
"It was much better in the second half," Petke told reporters after the match. "Overall organization, our desire, our ability to create chances and get forward, but at this point, four games in, there’s still a lot that we need to clean up. A lot. I can’t put my finger on it, specifically in the first half. To say that I wasn’t happy in the first half would probably be the understatement of the year."
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The draw was the team's third straight following the season opening loss at Vancouver. And while Chivas USA - which finished last in the West last year - has shown signs of improvement early in 2014, Petke obviously felt his defending Supporter Shield side should have done better.
"(The) second half was a good response," he said. "I thought we saw some very good play, specifically from certain players and to get the goal in the end. But let’s put things in perspective, we tied Chivas in the 92nd minute a home. A better Chivas team than last year for sure. I think they’ve done well there, but we tied Chivas at home in the 90th minute so that’s not good enough."
Although the Red Bulls are winless, Petke said "there is no panic button," noting that the team has more points than the 2013 team through the first four matches. Last year, New York began 0-2-2.
"I’m not happy with a lot of things," he said. "I don’t want to make any bold statements. I don’t want to do it like Mike Petke usually does, comes in and flies off and says things. I’m going to take a very close look at this reserve game to be honest with you and I’m going to pay very close attention to the reserve players this week because there has to come a point that some of these kids are given an opportunity that they deserve."
The Red Bulls Reserves were set to host USL PRO side Dayton Dutch Lions later on Sunday afternoon.
"That’s all I’m going to say and I don’t want anybody to run with that saying that I’m going to make wholesale changes next week, that’s not what I’m saying. We need some life in this team at times and you saw it in the second half but you saw it very sparingly throughout the first four games and that to me, talk tactics all you want, talk individual plays, but at the end of the day, if we’re going to come out flat like that, then might as well not come out at all."
Chivas took a lead off a penalty kick by Erick Torres after right back Richard Eckersley was called for a foul on rookie Thomas McNamara. Making matter worse, both Eckersley and Tim Cahill were forced out before the break with injuries - a hamstring for Cahill and lower leg injury to Eckersley.
One aspect of the match that Petke took comfort in was the reaction in the second half.
"I didn’t go in and give them an inspirational speech or anything like that," he said. "I’m for sure not going to take credit for them going out in the second half. I did let them know that it wasn’t good enough. I did let them know that we did need to do things a bit differently. I pointed out the things I thought we needed to do differently and I think they took it upon themselves and realized it. I’m assuming that’s what happened because it was a much different second half."