We all knew Saturday's season opener in Vancouver was going to be hard on the Red Bulls. With the turf sidelining Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave, the less-than-full-strength line-up was going to have to step up.
Unfortunately, they didn't.
While the Red Bulls saw the majority of possession -- 57 percent to 43 percent -- there was little going on in the final third that could count as threatening. The Whitecaps took their chances, including a penalty earned when Richard Eckersley guarded his face with his hands and a great strike from Sebastian Fernandez, and put four past Luis Robles.
At least the Red Bulls ended the game on a strong note, with Bradley Wright-Phillips notching his first goal of the season. The goal, a header Wright-Phillips flicked past David Ousted in stoppage time made you wonder why he wasn't on the field from the start.
That's a good question, when you consider that Peguy Luyindula's best position is at withdrawn striker, where he can distribute close to goal, and Tim Cahill's is at attacking midfielder, making secondary and tertiary runs into the box. The Red Bulls were, essentially, playing without a striker for stretches, with both players dropping back into the midfield. Bringing Wright-Phillips on gave the Red Bulls a legitimate center forward and likely would've helped them make good on those possession numbers.
While the Red Bulls have plenty of depth, losing two of their most important players will throw the team into a bit of turmoil as seen last night.
The good news is that is game one of 34. With Henry and Olave back in the line-up, the Red Bulls will have a chance to pick it back up at home against the Colorado Rapids next week.