Tom Edwards tries to stop an FC Cincinnati attack at Red Bull Arena on August 4 (Credit: New York Red Bulls)

A slow first half and fading performance in the final 45 doomed the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night. Despite outshooting FC Cincinnati two times over the struggling Bulls could only manage a 0-0 draw in Harrison. The result does little for RBNY in the standings as they sit outside playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The team’s last win came over a month ago against Orlando City SC on the road.

Cincinnati currently sits in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, one spot behind RBNY.

Red Bulls’ manager Gerhard Struber told media afterwards that his group knows they can play better. Not much was said in the locker room after either half. In his mind, the players themselves are the ones most disappointed.

“From the result side we are disappointed and frustrated,” he said in the zoom press conference. “We were unconcentrated when we have a chance to score… we miss the right hunger and the right desire to score.”

Despite looking like the better team overall, New York was never dangerous. 24 shots on goal but only three on targeted never rattled the Cincy backline. Many of the shots came from long range, going wide or sailing high. Caden Clark and Drew Yearwood, acting as acting midfielders, never got close to net.

Speaking of the midfield, the first half diamond formation flattened out over time. Fábio especially struggled to adapt, emphasized by a break in the 56th minute that ended with a cross to absolutely nobody. The look on his face spoke plenty; he expected a midfielder to be breaking upfield from behind.

It was not all bad from New York. Despite not seeing much action in the first half Kyle Duncan had decent connections later in the match. One cross to Clark in the 50th minute saw the Minnesota native battle two defenders deep into the box. It was during that early second half burst of energy that gave fans hope for an opening goal.

Also late game substitute Tom Barlow, seemingly unaffected by the shifting midfield, had a few dangerous motions but none of his shots could make the back netting.

Andrew Gutman made his return to the field after a few weeks rehabbing from a knee injury. From the first whistle the Atlanta United man made his mark. Only five minutes and after a feed from Amro Tarek, Gutman played the ball up after quickly assessing the formation. The resulting cross from this play saw Patryk Klimala scissor kick a shot off the crossbar and Fábio heading the rebound high. This sort of fast passed offense was missing from the left side with John Tolkin. Gutman has a larger presence on the pitch and can call out orders effectively.

“I am happy with (Andrew’s) performance today,” Struber to NYCSN. “I think he make many things in a good way. We know he need a little bit more time. But right now it’s a very good feeling, I have two fullbacks on the left side… right now it’s a big competition on the side but I have trust in my young boys.”

Cincinnati did not just leave Harrison with a point. On Thursday, New York announced midfielder Florian Valot had been traded to FCC for $50,000 in 2022 General Allocation Money. The French national, who was robbed of the 2020 MLS Comeback Player of the Year award, can also earn RBNY additional GAM if he meets certain performance-based metrics.

New York is on the road for it’s next two games. This Saturday the team takes on the Chicago Fire (12th place Eastern) at 8 PM east coast. After that New York heads north of the border for a match against CF Montréal.

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