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Red Bulls’ woeful defense gives the Crew three points

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The Red Bulls couldn’t escape the cliché trap game, as they fell to the Columbus Crew.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls
New York had no answers for the Crew’s direct play strategy.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew came to Red Bull Arena limping with a ravaging of injuries, but it didn’t stop Caleb Porter’s men as they took the full three points in a three goals to two victory.

After the Red Bulls converted the opening goal in the 15th minute from a Brian White header, the Crew took advantage of lackadaisical play, as Luis Argudo scored his first of the season on a quick developing play.

As Alex Crognale sent a looping ball towards Gyasi Zardes, who was making a run, the U.S. men’s national team striker made a quick pass to Argudo, who slotted his shot past Luis Robles to level the score.

All match long, the Crew made runs with looping balls, outrunning the Red Bulls’ backline and the defensive midfielders, creating chances. While Amro Tarek did win a challenge here and there, a majority of the night belonged to the Crew.

The worst moment came at the start of the second half. The Crew stole the ball and attacked down the near side in the 46th minute. Hector Jimenez sent the ball towards Argudo’s way. He reached the endline and sent a quick pass to a wide open Pedro Santos, who flicked it top shelf to take the lead.

No one picked up the second runner Santos, as Tim Parker marked Argudo and Michael Murillo was tracking back late, allowing the Crew to take the lead.

The Red Bulls did have an answer in the 63rd minute, though. At the hour mark, it looked like there was a foul on Daniel Royer, but referee Fotis Bazakos initially didn’t spot it. Play was halted as VAR referee Jon Freemon intervened.

Video review showed Royer trying to play the ball in mid-air inside the Crew’s area when he got pulled back by Argudo. After the video review, the spot kick was awarded and Royer converted it in the 63rd minute, tying the game.

It looked like there might be a winner for New York, or at least a draw, but once again, the defense didn’t look for the second man floating around in the box. Again, that man was Pedro Santos, who converted a poaching, open net goal in the 84th minute.

Gyasi Zardes was going down the far side and forced Luis Robles to come off his line and make a save, but the rebound deflected towards Santos, who earned his brace as not a single defender marked him for the tally.

“Listen, what Columbus did on the night is what we’ve seen a lot of teams do,” head coach Chris Armas said. “They came here, they changed their tactics. They really changed their approach to what they want to do to us, and that approach can be disruptive to any team.

“You just don’t really see it where teams just play 30 percent of long balls all day, it’s difficult. Third goal comes from the long ball -- those are not easy to deal with, but they should be dealt with. We should be better.

“We talked about having a good start to each half. It wasn’t our night and Columbus was hungry and they deserved to win.”

With this loss, the Red Bulls remain in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. This result and performance will give the players nightmares, no doubt, but New York will look to shake it off and get ready for another match with Toronto FC next weekend.