The Red Bulls’ second home game of the season ended in defeat as the team fell to Orlando City SC, 1-0, on Saturday, March 23rd. This is New York’s first loss of the regular season while Orlando picks its’ first win after starting the year 0-1-2.

In what should have been a joyous night for team captain Luis Robles in his 250th game cap, no matter the outcome, the goalkeeper was shown a yellow card for descent after the final whistle had blown.

After the match, head coach Chris Armas understood the captain’s actions and voiced his own frustration with Orlando’s tactics late into the game.

“It’s for Orlando wasting time, which they did all night,” Armas said in the post game press conference. “You can see that it was a deliberate attempt to slow the game and they were taking time. As a league, I don’t think we want this to look that way and it’s being addressed (but) it’s hard to manage that for referees. There was some frustration that we lost, there’s frustration that (an Orlando player) picked the ball up at the end and threw the ball away and (the players are) saying that’s an easy yellow card, and they’re right.

“But listen, this frustration is (for a) bigger reasons than that,” he continued. “We want to make a clear statement that it wasn’t the referees, it wasn’t that (Orlando) slowed the game (down). The main thing is that we didn’t play that great and that frustrated our guys.”

After a quick start including a corner kick and a few chances, the Bulls were hampered early on by injuries and game pace. Orlando slowed the game and pulled New York out of its comfort zone giving both opportunities to challenge for ball possession.

Orlando SC’s Sacha Kljestan scores against his former team at Red Bull Arena on March 23, 2019. (CREDIT: Orlando City SC)

The game pace wasn’t helped by the fact that multiple Bulls were not in this game due to international team duty. Aaron Long was called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team, who beat Ecuador, 1-0, on March 21, while Kaku, Kemar Lawrence, and Michael Murillo were all called up for Paraguay, Jamaica, and Panama respectively.

Neither team could find the back of the net but both had chances. In the sixth minute, a Marc Rzatkowski corner kick found the head of Alex Muyl whose redirect was kept in front of the goal line by an incredible hand save from Orlando keeper Brian Rowe. From there, the game began to slow more as the physicality increased including a club bouncer esc shove from New York’s Tim Parker.

Midway through the first, a hard challenge to Connor Lade forced the young New Jersey native to come off the field. After a few minutes being tented to in-front of the RBNY bench, he was helped to the back while Omir Fernandez came on for the defender.

This was a worrying situation after Florian Valot, who was honored today as his teammates’ wore his number 22 during warm-ups,  tore his ACL last week in New York’s MLS home opener against San Jose. Following the game however Armas said Lade was doing alright but did not say anything more than that.

In a twist of fate it would be former Red Bull Sacha Kljestan who would score the game’s only goal in the 73rd minute. A long pass from João Moutinho on the left side reached the charging Kljestan who got his shot past the advancing Robles on his right side. Dom Dwyer also assisted on the play as well.

New York hits the road for its next game as it travels to face the Chicago Fire on Saturday, March 30th. The team returns home the following week on Saturday, April 6, for a game against Minnesota United.

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