This one was another bitter pill to swallow for the New York Red Bulls, who had only recently been forced to take a nasty dose of medicine at Real Salt Lake. In mid-week, RBNY lost a five-game streak of wins and shutouts; now, the team has started a mini-winless streak.
The Red Bulls did not lose to Columbus Crew, but it felt that way. For the second game in a row, RBNY conceded a late goal; for the second game in a row, that goal conceded cost the team points. In RSL, it turned a draw into a loss; in Columbus, it turned a win into a draw. All told, that is one point from two games, with three very achievable points (one in Utah; two in Ohio) left behind on the road for want of being able to keep the ball out of the net in the closing minutes of the match.
This time around, after a scoreless first half, the Red Bulls were able to get the opening goal in the 52nd minute when Bradley Wright-Phillips bagged his ninth of the season. Alex Muyl was attacking down the far side and when he got close to the Crew's area, he made a fantastic cross towards the middle. BWP found a lot of room in the Columbus back line, and planted a header inside the near post.
RBNY's 1-0 lead held until the final minute of three in second-half stoppage time, when another late goal was conceded. Waylon Francis received a good ball from Ethan Finley at the far side of the field; the left back crossed into the box, and Ola Kamara came out of nowhere to tap the ball past Luis Robles.
The Red Bulls now have four points from their last three league games and are teetering on the precipice of a slump. They will stay on the road for the next two games: first, in the US Open Cup at the Philadelphia Union, then another visit to the Bronx and NYCFC in MLS.
"It's frustrating for all of us because there's two games where we give away late goals and instead of walking away from this road trip with two good performances that lead to four points we walk away with one." said Jesse Marsch, "With that being said, we didn't play well enough. We didn't have enough guys who were sharp enough on the day, who had enough poise, who understood how to slow this game down a little bit. When they like to play fast, we like to play fast. In some ways, a point is probably just but giving it away at the end is no good and not having enough guys to play well is no good."
The last two games have not been without positives. For example, Manhattan local Alex Muyl is looking better and better every time he steps on the field. He evidently has the confidence to go out there and perform, despite being only halfway through his rookie season as a pro. His second assist in MLS was a highlight-reel illustration of the reason RBNY has shown increasing faith in the 20-year-old.
Now the Red Bulls must set disappointment aside to focus on the very-much improved Philadelphia Union and US Open Cup. This will be not just RBNY's chance to advance in a competition it has never won, but also the opportunity to exact some form of revenge after getting eliminated by the same opponent in last year's USOC.