Harrison, NJ - This past Saturday's 2-0 loss to Chicago was a tough example of what the costs are when a team gets too apprehensive about taking shots.
The irony of it all is that the game was not nearly as one-sided at the score would indicate. The Red Bulls simply left Red Bull Arena with little to show for their hard fought battle. New York suffered way too many missed chances, especially in the first half, against a Chicago Fire team that has been a formidable opponent all season long. Cries of frustration bellowed from the South Ward as the Red Bulls midfield set up several scoring opportunities that were doomed in a sea of too-many-touches.
With the regular season drawing to a close, the effect of a single win becomes evermore visceral. With few points separating some of the runner-up teams in the East, the New York Red Bulls could have used an extra three this weekend. Already on level pegging with the Fire going into the match, the loss shook up New York's position in the Eastern Conference standings, resulting in a drop to 4th place on the tables and a Felix Baumgartner-style dive to the 8th spot in the MLS Power Rankings. (See what I did there? Red Bull Stratos, get at me!)
New York's focus moving forward, among other things, should be on maximizing the chances of a return on each advance by not shying away from pulling the trigger if they find some space near the box. The midfield has been dominant at tempo control and serving up scoring opportunities. An extra pass before the shot could have the goalkeeper at his feet, but too many results in a similar effect on the strikers themselves, as evidenced. While it's nice that the Red Bulls aspire to be "Passabola FC," if one among Henry, Cooper, & Co. can find the resolve to go for the glory and take the shot, the team might be able to recoup some clout heading into the post-season.
The next match is set for October 20th, providing a brief hiatus for both sides before the Red Bulls square off at home with the Eastern Conference front-runners, Sporting Kansas City. If New York aims to clamor its way back to a playoff berth before the season officially wraps up, a win is critical; in the context of generating wins, shots are quintessential.
Video courtesy of the New York Red Bulls and Major League Soccer.