It was the first game of new era. Unfortunately for the New York Red Bulls, it produced the same old result.
Saturday night’s 1-0 rivalry win for the Philadelphia Union over visiting New York was the first chance for the Red Bulls to unveil their star-studded starting lineup. But even the insertion of star acquisition Dwayne De Rosario and a seemingly dominant performance failed to give New York the result they were after.
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“With the quality of players we have, great buildup from the back with Rafa Marquez and Tim Ream, two of the best from the back in distributing and the midfielders we have, it’s clicking nice,” assistant Mike Petke told MLSsoccer.com. “But the result didn’t go our way today.”
The loss was even tougher to swallow after last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Houston, when the Red Bulls dominated play just as impressively and still let the Dynamo leave Red Bull Arena with a draw.
New York managed 12 shots on Saturday night – including two that hit the woodwork in the first half from rising star forward Juan Agudelo – but once again made a crucial mistake on the defensive end, this time on an uncharacteristic giveaway from Ream that led to Roger Torres’ breakaway goal in the 68th minute.
Ream scuffed a pass out of the back that landed on Danny Mwanga’s foot, and the Philly youngster coolly dished it off to Torres for the finish past Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.
“Give Philadelphia a little credit in all this,” Petke said, “they bunched up the space for us.”
The Red Bulls’ best chances came in the 21st and 31st minutes off the foot of Agudelo. After a promising surge up the right flank by De Rosario, the former TFC man sent a pass into the box to Agudelo, who promptly turned and skipped a left-footed shot off the far post.
His second chance was even more tantalizing, but his chip over Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón skipped harmlessly off the crossbar.
Where the Red Bulls backline limited Philadelphia to just a handful of chances and effectively started the New York attack, head coach Hans Backe’s squad failed to find creativity in the final third in front of the Union goal. Only left midfielder Joel Lindpere looked certain to find space in the Union’s defensive third, consistently harassing the Philadelphia backline.
“Honestly, I think last game and this game was just a lot of opportunities, near misses,” Petke said. “Lots of possession, which is nice but at the end of the day, we didn’t get the result. Philadelphia did.”
“You can’t put your finger on it,” Petke added. “We have phenomenal players up top, but it didn’t happen.”