After continued success at home had the team confident of a midweek breakthrough on the road, the New York Red Bulls again will have to wait for their first away points of 2021 after a 3-2 loss to the first-place New England Revolution at Foxboro.
In a recurring script for New York on the road this season, Gerhard Struber concocted an improved second half performance that was nonetheless unable to overcome the disaster that took place in the opening stretches. After being stunned by a three-goal New England blitz on both sides of halftime, the Red Bulls clawed back through Patryk Klimala and Andrés Reyes goals and in the process became the first team to score two goals in Foxboro this season. But ultimately the comeback fell short as the Red Bulls threw bodies forward late.
Much like last month’s visit to Gillette Stadium, the game opened well enough for Struber’s Red Bulls, with Frankie Amaya testing Matt Turner on a counter attack and Dru Yearwood carving up New England’s right side and curling a shot off the post. However, it was two familiar faces who broke the game open for New England in the 26th minute.
MVP candidate Carles Gil danced around a Yearwood tackle before lifting the ball over a paralyzed New York backline for onrushing Canadian international Tajon Buchanan to fire past Carlos Coronel. Just five minutes later Bou again took advantage of the space being granted by the New York midfield (again featuring natural fullback Tom Edwards in the deep defensive role) to find wide man DeJuan Jones streaking past a prone Kyle Duncan to again slot past a helpless Coronel.
After Struber was spotted viewing game film on a tablet with assistant Bernd Eibler even before the halftime whistle, adjustments were expected from a manager who has been noted by many of his squad for his attentiveness to maintaining team principles late into games. The team opened the half with possession and looks at goal but ended up being undone yet again by a resulting corner kick. After New York’s attempt was cleared, it was Carles Gil again who flicked the ball upfield for a sprinting Gustavo Bou who took advantage of a nearly empty Red Bulls backfield (which Struber claimed postgame did not follow his set piece instructions) to chip New England’s third goal over Carlos Coronel.
But in the aforementioned all-90-minutes trademark of Struber’s team in 2021, the Red Bulls did not give up and nearly salvaged a point out of a disastrous opening 51 minutes. Just three minutes after Bou’s dagger, Patryk Klimala notched his first MLS goal after excellent work by Fábio Gomes Netto to cushion a John Tolkin long ball in the box. New York continued to push uphill and eventually created their own luck when Andrés Reyes fired past Matt Turner through traffic off a corner kick scramble to cut the deficit to one for the game’s final 15 minutes. However the final whistle blew before an equalizer could be manufactured by three strikers as well as both center backs roaming forward for long balls.
“We are very disappointed,” Gerhard Struber remarked post-match. “This is a bad feeling for me, my staff, every player. We talk about making a good performance for the whole game time and I think today there are some moments when we are not ready. This is what makes me angry, because if not for those moments we play well enough to win. In the second half I saw every player on the same page.”
Striker Patryk Klimala expressed happiness at his first goal with the club but reiterated his manager’s disappointment at the first half and sense that the game was theirs’ if not for mistakes.
“I don’t think (New England) made things that hard for us, really. I think we just have a bad first half where we made a couple mistakes and lost the ball. In the first half, we were not playing our game, it was not like us. If we play the first half like we played the second half, I think we win this game. I’m proud of the guys. They kept fighting even after we were losing 3-0.”
With his team making a quick turnaround for another difficult road matchup in Atlanta on Sunday, Gerhard Struber continued to stress “patience” for his young team as well as challenging those same players to rise to the occasion.
“We have to be quicker in the brain to avoid these moments. We have very young boys who are learning but they need to understand that to beat a quality team, everybody must come out of their personal limit.”