BY DAVE MARTINEZ
HARRISON, N.J. — It wasn’t just the team’s first home loss or their failure to take sole possession of first place that had Tim Cahill up in arms. It was the play and behavior of Sporting KC that rubbed him the wrong way.
Usually a reserved figure, the Australian striker stared off into the distance while recounting his disappointment to reporters after Wednesday night’s deflating 2-0 loss.
He held little back.
“I don’t think there’s anything special to their team,” he bluntly began. “I think we didn’t perform tonight compared to the game on Saturday. We’ve got to be really disappointed with what happened tonight. They won, credit to them, there is not much to say about that game except to put it behind us because that’s another team.
“They are a very physical team. You see every time there is a challenge or something going on in the middle park, the ref gets swarmed, asking for yellow cards, they are asking for free kicks. I didn’t see this in football, you know what I mean? Just play the game and get on with it
“That’s what frustrated me the most tonight. The poor ref was smothered every time there was an incident. The ref is on the pitch to do a job; he doesn’t need their coach and their player swarming the ref, asking for yellows, asking for fouls. We lost the game ourselves. Yeah, they are a good team, but we definitely should have competed a lot better and I really wanted to win this game so much tonight for us, for the fans, for what we have done the last two months.”
This isn’t the first time Cahill has expressed his displeasure with Sporting KC. Earlier in the week, the Red Bulls DP bristled at some comments made by Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes after their last encounter.
“They had a few comments from the manager after (the 1-1 draw in Kansas City) about us parking the bus but in this game you have to have different tactics to play as you saw at (D.C. United).”
Clearly, the disdain carried over into this game.
“They have some strong players but as I said, they turned it into that sort of a game,” he continued. “They wanted a physical battle, they wanted the scrap, they wanted to nick their goals and they wanted to sit back. They did their tactics quite well, and it worked for them. What they do, the style of play they play in this league. It’s just one of them ones. The ref probably had one of the hardest games he ever had.
“I’ve never seen a ref get swarmed so much by players. Every little incident, every little tackle and touch. It’s not right.”
The blame wasn’t all on Kansas City on this night. In fact, Cahill credited them for their win and was also quick to point out the Red Bulls' own faults for the loss. Wednesday marked the 12th time this season that the Red Bull conceded a goal within the first 20 minutes of play, a stat that Rafa Marquez called the team’s 'cancer'.
“We’ve got a lot more fight than that,” Cahill asserted. “We still created the chances, we conceded two really soft goals and when you get down like that so early, it affects the team, it affects the way the team plays. Tonight wasn’t a night we could come back but it’s got to be put right as soon as possible.
“We’ve said it, it’s so important to concede two goals that early … you just can’t do it because it’s an uphill battle,” he continued. “You have to deal with it. We’ve (given up early goals) for the majority of the season and now we have to put it right. There is no way of changing it except by us working hard and getting a good understanding.
“Collectively we take the blame together. It’s not just about the back four – it’s about all of us. It is one thing we have to do is take responsibility as a team and put it right. Kansas City come away, got the three points, very scrappy, the ball was in the air a lot … it was just a weird game and one I just want to forget about."
Cahill may have wanted to quickly forget the result, but he admitted there were plenty of lessons to be learned from the humbling defeat that now has the Red Bulls five points behind Sporting KC for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We just need to look at ourselves and that’s it," said Cahill. "Don’t look at anyone else, don’t look at them, and we go back to the drawing board and make sure that we play a lot better. Still, at the end, we should have got something from it, and that’s the most disappointing thing because our home record has been tarnished. Hopefully this is a bit of a wakeup call and most of us go away upset … I mean really upset.
“This could have been a special night to bounce and keep on.”