While the team’s away form remains perfect, it was another frustrating night in Harrison for the New York Red Bulls.
After a week in which Struber had said his team must prove itself to fans with a home result, the team squandered an opportunity to earn their first win and confirm their status as league contenders. A second half collapse by the Red Bulls resulted in goals for Rudy Camacho and Romell Quioto as CF Montreal earned a 2-1 win. Omir Fernandez opened the scoring in New York’s favor, but what Struber and Fernandez said was a drop in intensity allowed Montreal back into the game and eventually into the lead.
On a mild and partly cloudy afternoon on the Passaic, the Red Bulls took the initiative early and looked ready to break their home snide. Struber rolled the team out in a somewhat conventional 4-2-3-1 formation as Cristian Casseres replaced the suspended Frankie Amaya in central midfield and attacking midfielder Luquinhas made his first start in MLS in a left-sided wing role.
After several waves of attack in the game’s first ten minutes, it was the central-playing Omir Fernandez who put the Red Bulls ahead. Following a neat interchange in midfield between Dru Yearwood and Luquinhas, Fernandez collected a flicked ball and fired a shot from the top of the box that deflected off Montreal defender Rudy Camacho to float into the net for a 1-0 New York lead.
The team’s pressing structure appeared fierce in the game’s early minutes as Montreal did not forage into the New York penalty area until an unsuccessful Alistair Johnston cross was easily collected by Carlos Coronel in the 20th minute. But shortly after, the Canadians would find more of a footing in the game and caused the Red Bulls problems. Kamal Miller forced a save from Coronel off a set piece second ball in the 34th minute before Sunisi Ibrahim headed a looping ball off the post on a later goalmouth scramble. New York went into the half with a 1-0 lead but some concern as the game’s energy began to slip from their grasp.
The second half would continue on the same tenor as Montreal began to counter-punch with more venom. They eventually found their breakthrough on another set piece breakdown that Struber’s team struggled to track. In a goal similar to the team’s concession against Minnesota in the home opener last month, a free kick chance was cleared only for a lumped cross to find an unmarked Rudy Camacho in the box to nod an easy header past Coronel to equalize and silence RBA.
Gerhard Struber would react with a series of substitutions, including the removal of the still-acclimating Luquinhas for fitness reasoning and a sub of the indifferent Patryk Klimala for the more physically-robust Tom Barlow. The team would pursue a fruitless series of long balls and flicks in the late passages before a lack of backline communication led to their downfall. After Montreal cleared a New York siege into midfield in the 81st minute, Carlos Coronel attempted to sweep the ball only for Montreal substitute Romell Quioto to sneak in from the side and nick it away. Quioto would finish into an empty net for a go-ahead goal the Red Bulls would not recover from. A Fernandez back post chance was fired directly at the goalkeeper for the last chance in a game that will surely sting for Struber’s team.
“We have a different expectation today,” said the Austrian manager post-game.
“The level of the game, what we did or what we produced today was not enough. We are not sharp enough over the whole game time to bring the points home. This game showed me one more time very, very clear, when some players think that with 80-90 percent performance is enough to win, then I think our learning curve goes up.”
“I think today, we have a big lesson when we have not the right intensity over the whole game time and we are not hungry to do everything for a win, then we cannot win games. This shows me today the game, we are especially in the second half, we have not the clear chances. We have not the right hunger.”
“For 30 minutes, I’m 100 percent happy with the boys. But the game is not 30 minutes; it’s 90 minutes. In many other ways, we are not always sharp in what we want, and I think this is today the biggest question for me, why we are not 100 percent ready and why we are not leaving everything on the field like the games before.”
Goalscorer Omir Fernandez seconded his manager’s comments saying the team let the energy from a good start slip away from them.
“I think in the first half, I think it was clear that we came out with a high intensity. Obviously, I think in the second half, we let it drop. I think, you know, we win games when our intensity is at our limit, you know, when we are pressing, when we are in transition to our limit and to our full potential. I think in the second half, we dropped a little bit in all aspects of our game, and I think we gave them the game.”
Struber continues to be perplexed by his team’s struggles at home as they seek to bring their play to the next level. As of Saturday evening the Red Bulls now sit third in the Eastern Conference, well within striking distance of the league’s elite, but in desperate need to confirm such potency with home wins, with another chance coming next weekend.
“Next week we have another chance against Dallas, also a very good opponent, and then I think everyone has the chance to come on his personal limit. And always when we did it in the past, then normally, we come home with points.”