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New England 3-1 Red Bulls: roller coaster Reyes first half sinks team at Foxboro

Colombian defender replacing Aaron Long scores opener before being sent off

MLS: New York Red Bulls at New England Revolution
Goalkeeper Carlos Coronel trails after the final goal in New England’s 3-1 win over a shorthanded Red Bulls team
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It was another road loss against one of the conference’s best sides, but the New York Red Bulls at least managed to make it more eventful this time.

A roller coaster debut from Andrés Reyes where he scored the opener before being sent off before halftime left New York fighting uphill for most of a game they ended up losing 3-1 to the New England Revolution. Gustavo Bou and Tajon Buchanan scored for New England before the half while Adam Buksa sealed the result in the game’s closing moments.

But the debutant center back Reyes achieved fame and infamy in a span of under 40 minutes. After emphatically heading home a corner kick to put the Red Bulls in front in the 7th minute, Reyes impressed with his mobility and multiple smooth dribbles into the midfield. His confident early work at the back emboldened a team still stung by the loss of defensive talisman Aaron Long, with Daniel Royer nearly doubling the lead with a breakway pushed wide. However the Colombian youth national teamer saw his dream start turn into a nightmare with a pair of yellow cards issued by referee Jair Marrufo.

First was a hard foul that sent New England midfielder Matt Polster into the boards, followed minutes later by a lunge on Carles Gil. While both cards were dubious particularly in the early stretches of a match that had been chippy in general, they mark a continued trend for the young defender who earned seven yellows in just 13 appearances for Inter Miami last season.

The Red Bulls were rocked by the decision and struggled to regain their footing in the first half as New England attacked in waves. Having already equalized through a quick transition finished by Gustavo Bou, New England went ahead through Tajon Buchanan who beat Carlos Coronel with a near post rocket at the dying moments before halftime.

The Red Bulls adjusted to a 3-4-2 formation for a second half which saw them create a surprising amount of chances against a New England team sometimes spoiled for choice and erratic in possession. But eventually a series of draining counter attacks by the Revs broke the Red Bulls down as substitute Adam Buksa put the game out of reach with a calm 82nd minute finish.

After the game, Red Bulls manager Gerhard Struber expressed obvious disappointment with the result, especially after the high spirits of the game’s opening stages. “It’s a disappointing moment. Until (the red card) I think we were brilliant. I think in all four stages of the game we have everything in our hands.”

“I think we have a lot of young players and sometimes with this there is a learning curve. Andrés is maybe not as experienced and has two moments where he loses his balance...and enters moments that he maybe doesn’t have to.”

Struber seems to have maintained an intense desire to get back into the game through the team adjustments that kept the game close until late - but also with the curious handling of young attacker Cameron Harper. Having entered for Caden Clark in the 59th minute, Harper was pulled in favor of John Tolkin in the 85th minute, with Struber stating that Harper’s positioning was unacceptable in a game the team was trying to claw back into.

“I think there were moments where Cameron was not in the right positions on or against the ball. In an underload (ten man) situation, we need everybody to be going outside their box to help the team and this was a big challenge that maybe Cameron couldn’t handle.”

Team captain Sean Davis appeared exhausted after a second half where he helped keep the team within fighting distance of a result and expressed pride in the team’s mentality despite another frustrating result.

“I thought we really should have done a better job managing the end of the first half because getting back to the locker room to regroup helped and we were better in the second half despite still having ten men. I’m proud of the group for the effort, we put in a lot of fight despite it all. It’s frustrating but we can see the steps being made and getting points on the road is our next step.”