With its’ loss to Minnesota United FC, 2-1, on Saturday night, the New York Red Bulls have dropped three straight MLS games for the first time since April 2016.
For the third straight game, RBNY has lost a game by a single goal. Though the team’s goalless streak was ended after two games thanks to Cristian Casseres Jr.’s first goal in Major League Soccer that came in the 70th minute.
“The goals are gonna come,” head coach Chris Armas said in his post-game press conference – which he’s said for the past three weeks. “But when they don’t come, when they don’t come first, it puts a little more pressure on your backline and on your team… It puts stress on the team. We come in, the guys they (hear) ‘we haven’t lost two in a row,’ now it’s three in a row… It deflates you a little bit.
“But our guys rebounded and came back with energy and fight. When we stick to who we are and force the issue a little bit… it looks more and feels more like us.”
New York did control the second half pace despite Minnesota getting more shots on Luis Robles’ net than they did in the first 45 minutes. The captain and his squad of backline stars have actually done a decent job this year only allowing six goals through five games (which is fourth best in the eastern conference behind Columbus, DC United, Toronto, and tied with Atlanta).
But in the most recent league game, the Loons arrived at Red Bull Arena without Darwin Quintero, who is recovering from a groin injury, and left with three points. The loss also now leaves New York with two home losses in 2019, which equals its’ total for the entirety of last season.
Robles still doesn’t believe it’s time to throw in the towel and start from scratch.
“Remember 1-and-6 in 2016,” Robles said in the locker room following the match. “There are some similarities to that. We were able to turn that around and fall within three points of the Supporters’ Shield. So I’m confident in this group that we can turn it around.”
New York’s offense is the thing that needs work as soon as possible. The team matched Minnesota in shots on goal during the game with five but had more total shots (13 to 9) and ball possession (63.1 % to 36.9 % according to the official boxscore). The team is failing to make meaningful passes and decisive finishes late into plays.
One key example of this can be seen at the end of the first half where Bradley Wright-Phillips had two great opportunities to bring his team level. First his stoppage time, the point-blank shot was directed right at keeper Vito Mannone allowing it to be blocked and his header on the ensuing corner kick was weakly struck and caught. BWP hasn’t had the same type of scoring ability we say in his record-breaking season last year. Plus he typically follows a pattern of 20+ goal season followed by a lower scoring one the next year, which without believing in superstition we might be in for if his play does not improve.
Alex Muyl being injured early on isn’t a great aid either. The young star was helped off the field following a collision with an MNUFC defender in the 17th minute and replaced by Daniel Royer a few minutes later. Muyl has been one of the best ballplayers the team has had during this rough stretch and his loss was immediately felt as the team struggled in the rest of the first half.
“This team has shown that we have a clear playing style, Armas said. “When different players have not been in the lineup that the next guy comes in and things keep moving. There’s a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities.
“Alex has been a big part of things, he continued. “We’ve been relying on him a lot. He gives so much to the team, his energy is so contagious… I think he just rolled his ankle, I think he’ll be back soon.”
New York heads on a two-game road trip for its next games taking on Sporting Kansas City (who are coming off the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League series with Monterey) and the New England Revolution on April 14 and 20 respectively. The team returns home on April 27 to take on MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati.