The New York Red Bulls lost to the Houston Dynamo 4-2.
They were not the winners, and if we were to do a ranking they were the second best of the two teams out there. Many of the Red Bulls and the coaching staff would agree with that statement.
"I think we were second best in a lot of areas on the field, and in the end, overall, just not a good enough performance to get three points on the road," Sacha Kljestan said after the loss.
"We came in second, especially first half, on a lot of plays," manager Jesse Marsch added.
Kljestan continued: "You know, [this is] one of the first times all season where we were second best. So it's disappointing, because, we went into halftime with the lead and we started the second half on a good foot and had some good plays put together."
Mike Grella gave the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead in in the 42' minute of play:
After heading into the locker room with a one-goal advantage, the Red Bulls were outscored 4-1 in the second half.
"The field's in horrible condition," Marsch commented, "which means that it feeds into the way they play a little bit. It comes down to mostly competing for loose balls, and little second balls, and aerials and everything else, that that feeds into the way that they want to play. We come in second on too many. They pick up a lot of loose balls. They put us on our heels. And, you know, for us, it wasn't good enough."
The Red Bulls gave up 3 straight goals in the second half, before Marius Obekop found Anatole Abang for his first MLS goal, giving the team some light as it head into stoppage time. The connection had been forged in USL all season, with both players receiving regular time for NYRB II.
"We brought in Marius and Abang, and they both had a positive impact on the game. So that was good to see," Marsch said.
"We have to continue to figure out how to give Abang chances, because he's shown that he's improving and getting better."
Abang's striker mentor/partner Bradley Wright-Phillips had nothing but positives to say to the young Cameroonian.
"They've been doing well in training, and for Abang to get his first goal is brilliant," Wright-Phillips told reporters after the loss.
"I don't think they can ask for anything more, apart from a win, you know? It'd be good if we can win and Abang could have got his first goal."
Fellow forward, Mike Grella praised the effort, but said the team maybe "took our foot off the pedal," in regards to the second half performance.
"We were up one-nil, had what we wanted going into the half, and we were 45 minutes away, but we let it run away from us, and it's unfortunate," Grella said.
"Everyone's positive, and we all have full ears and hearts ready for the management to tell us what to do."
With 14 days until the next MLS match, it will be up to Jesse Marsch to diagnose the malaise afflicting the team, and prescribe a remedy. Since starting the season 3-0-3, the New York Red Bulls are 1-4-2, and are only 3 points ahead of the 7th place team in the Eastern Conference.
Not all the Red Bulls players believed they were outplayed tonight. Goalkeeper Luis Robles thought the team was a bit "unlucky," and that the team can be "nastier, [for] sure."
"When you look at the goals, they're a little bit unlucky, but there's work to be done," Robles said.
"And I know that we have the right personnel, we have the right coaching staff to be able to solve these problems. But nonetheless, there are some very apparent problems that need to be solved."