Photo by ISIphotos.com
So how does an MLS team lose to a USL-2 team? There were plenty of factors that went into the Red Bulls’ 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace Baltimore on Tuesday night, but none of them is as important as the simple fact that the Red Bulls team that took the field played terribly.
Yes, the Red Bulls would have had a much better chance to avoid the upset if Dave Van Den Bergh, Dane Richards and Seth Stammler played, but with a second Western Conference road game in six days looming, it made sense to rest those players. Juan Carlos Osorio called on his reserves to show something in what was a golden opportunity and far too many of them wasted the chance.
Instead of making a case for more playing time, too many Red Bulls players showed little as they were outhustled and outworked by an inspired Crystal Palace team. The reality is that the performance shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.
It has been no secret all season that the Red Bulls roster was thin and in dire need of anywhere from three to five new players. The club is addressing that today with a press conference to announce the signings of Jorge Rojas and Juan Pietravallo, but those signings didn’t come soon enough to help a Red Bulls lineup that was short on talent, and failed to deliver any of the type of effort that has helped the short-handed squad get results in MLS play.
As much credit as Crystal Palace deserves for the win, it didn’t exactly beat a juggernaut. Here’s an interesting stat for you: $425,010. That’s the combined salaries of the Red Bulls starting XI last night, a total that averages out to about $38,637. That is still more than what the Palace players are making but just shows that the lineup they faced didn’t exactly have much star power.
The Red Bulls didn’t play like a hungry group of reserves eager for a better chance and bigger salary. Instead, they went through the motions like the match was a scrimmage or training session. Crystal Palace didn’t see it that way and fought the Red Bulls to every ball and jumped into scuffles at every opportunity (earning several cards in the process). The game meant something to them and it showed.
That didn’t show for the Red Bulls, which was sad considering the pitiful history of the club, and even sadder because of the fact that more than 50 fans made the more than 200-mile trek to Annapolis for the game. Those fans sang their hearts out for 90 minutes (not 70 or 80, but 90) and made the tiny High School field the game was played on sound like a Red Bulls home game.
The singing didn’t help though. Instead, we saw Mike Magee struggle in what might be one of his last matches as a Red Bull. We saw rookie John Gilkerson play terribly after showing so much promise against Chivas de Guadalajara. We watched Juan Carlos Osorio use Chris Megaloudis as the lone forward in a 4-2-3-1 when Megaloudis was in no way equipped to handle that role when John Wolyniec certainly was. We watched Gordon Kljestan struggle badly for 45 minutes in his first action with the Red Bulls (though you can probably chalk that up to nerves).
What we saw was just plain ugly, and unfortunately just another sad footnote for a club that already had enough sad footnotes.
What did you think of the Red Bulls’ loss last night? Share your thoughts below.