Ugh. A 2-0 win over D.C. United turned into a 2-2 tie thanks to goals coughed up in the 89th and 95th (95th!) minutes. Credit DCU for not giving up, but the boos the home crowd rained on the New York Red Bulls after the final whistle were not unwarranted: we've seen this before this season. We've seen it too often before this season. And now RBNY's most significant flaw in 2016 has come home to Harrison.
1. Again? At home this time?
The New York Red Bulls have been vulnerable to late pressure all season, but that frailty has mostly been restricted to away games. At home, since shaking off the stink of a dismal start to the year, RBNY has been reliably good. The team hasn't lost at Red Bull Arena since April 9. And hadn't tied a game at home since July 10.
The team is good: it is unbeaten in 11 league games. It didn't lose today. But its identity this season is not that of an unstoppable juggernaut. Its identity right now is one of mental and defensive frailty, a recurring vulnerability to opponents who won't lie down and don't stop trying to score until the final whistle.
#RBNY have now dropped a league-worst 18 points from leading positions in 2016. Insane. #NYvDC— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) September 11, 2016
And now that frailty has shown itself at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls let a 2-0 slip away in the last five minutes of a game they had been dominating for most of the second half. They had done the hard work - but they couldn't close it out.
The ESPN commentary team for this match repeatedly noted that RBNY is focused on MLS Cup this year. This disappointing tie won't count for a lot if the playoffs deliver a trophy. But that trophy won't arrive if the Red Bulls cannot address their peculiar weakness: they are at their worst when they (think they) have the better of an opponent.
2. Daniel Royer is good
In his first start for his new club, Royer put in a very promising performance. He did his best work in the second half, when he created the opportunity BWP turned into RBNY's second goal.
Who else?! @TheRealBWP doubles the lead for #RBNY. #NYvDC https://t.co/Twnk0cpbUO— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 11, 2016
And he missed a couple of chances that were the result of intelligent runs and good understanding with his teammates.
Royer will give Jesse Marsch a selection headache in the weeks to come - and that may prove the most significant development for RBNY to emerge from this match. We already knew the team was capable of falling on its face late in a game; we didn't know Daniel Royer was quite so comfortable at his new club.
3. Derrick Etienne's MLS debut
SUB: @detienne_10 makes his @MLS debut! He enters the match for Danny Royer in the 86th minute.— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) September 11, 2016
Unfortunately for Etienne, his MLS debut coincided with a low point of RBNY's season.
Still, congrats Derrick! There will be better days ahead - for you and the club.