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Red Bulls fail to overcome missed penalties, early red card in loss to Whitecaps



Photo by Brad Penner/USA Today Sports


HARRISON, N.J. –The New York Red Bulls nearly walked away from Red Bull Arena with a point on Saturday night, but ultimately couldn’t overcome self-inflicted damage in a 2-1 loss against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

After losing Sacha Kljestan to a red card in the 11th minute and falling behind 2-0, the Red Bulls hopes for any positive result seemed far gone. But a goal from Anatole Bertrand Abang in the 81st minute cut the deficit in half and a flurry of late chances nearly led to an equalizer.

The best of those opportunities came in the 83rd minute, when substitute Manolo Sanchez blasted a low shot from outside the box. But David Ousted managed a diving save on that attempt and also kept out a Dax McCarty header on the ensuing corner, ultimately preserving the Whitecaps’ win.

“It was an incredible night in terms of circumstances, how the game can flip on end so quickly,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “The biggest positive to take away is that, second half, a man down, the team really pushed hard and we were a little unlucky.”

In the end, the Red Bulls simply couldn’t overcome their own errors.

Things looked promising in the fourth minute, when the Red Bulls earned a penalty kick on a foul by Steve Beitashour. By the 15th minute, however, an Ousted save, Kljestan’s red card and Kekuta Manneh goal had quickly dismantled the early momentum.

As a result, the Red Bulls have now lost four straight MLS matches and have not recorded a league win since beating expansion side New York City FC on May 10.

“Crazy game, but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Marsch said. “Five games, one point. That’s not good enough. Period.”

The unraveling began when Bradley Wright-Phillips was unable to get his first of two penalty attempts past Ousted, who made a diving stop to his right.

In the 11th minute, with the Red Bulls preparing to take a corner, Kljestan was given his marching orders. The midfielder was unhappy when the Whitecaps’ Kendall Waston wrapped him up while making a run, but his retaliatory elbow and backward kick promptly earned a straight red.

With the Red Bulls reduced to 10 men, the Whitecaps wasted no time capitalizing. Having escaped a disastrous miscue just minutes earlier, Beitashour redeemed himself with 15th-minute cross that found the foot of Manneh, who volleyed it past Luis Robles from six yards out.

After the break, the Red Bulls returned to their high-press style and looked threatening, but their efforts only led to Wright-Phillips’ penalty-kick misery being intensified.

The English striker was gifted another chance from the spot in the 64th minute when Abang had his shirt pulled trying to head a cross. But once again, Ousted was equal to the task, this time using his legs to prevent Wright-Phillips’ attempt from hitting the middle of the net.

Thirteen minutes later, the Red Bulls were punished once again.

Kianz Froese, a 19-year-old midfielder, found space on the counter as the Red Bulls pushed to equalize and slotted home his first MLS goal – which proved to be the game-winner – in the 77th minute.

The win pushes Vancouver into a tie atop the Western Conference and Supporter’s Shield standings, though the Seattle Sounders have a game in hand. Their next match – a trip to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Revolution – will be their fourth of five straight on the road while BC Place hosts the Women’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, the sputtering Red Bulls sit in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference and remain narrowly above the red line on goal difference. They’ll return to action on Wednesday night, when Real Salt Lake makes a cross-country visit to Red Bull Arena.

“It certainly feels like right now, that things are going against us,” Marsch said. “But if you dwell on that, that’s being a loser, right? And quite honestly, if we start to feel sorry for ourselves, then we’re going to dig even a bigger hole. So right now, I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I’m ready. I’m ready for this challenge and we’re going to figure out a way to get out of it.”


  1. A 36 year old Pirlo, Lampard and Villa might be slow but at least worth buying a ticket to watch. New York Red Bulls are a joke. Even the Cosmos try harder. I’m not wasting my money on this team for the rest of the year.

  2. “Five games, one point. That’s not good enough. Period.” — got that right! 1 point out of 15! It’s pathetic,….and frankly, unacceptable! Where is Ali G? Where is his 300 page “sophiscated” plan now?

    BTW. — don’t like to pile on to players but Sasha Klestijan is slipping from average to detrimentL. Pity,….but for Jesse Marsh’s blinders for a guy he was familiar with,….Red Bulls might have had Mix Diskerud in the middle of the field. Sad.

    Also note that there is nothing in the system about Red Bulls bolstering the team with high end talent. My guess is that Curtis and Marsh were given one year deals for a reason.

    1 point out of 15! WTF! Guess they will be moving up a few slots in the SBI Power(less) Rankings this week.

    • Mix has been pretty dreadful too but I see your point. Felipe and Sacha were Jesse’s guys and they’ve both been poor. Maybe 1 out of 10 Felipe set-pieces are dangerous and the rest are overhit/underhit/complete wastes. Sacha shouldn’t have kicked out but Watson’s overreaction was embarrassing.

      Overall, I actually can’t fault this performance. They had to play 80 minutes with ten men and created more chances and were more dangerous than Vancouver. The lack of depth on this team is really going to become problematic with the fixture pileup over the next two weeks. If Red Bull would get its wallet out and get some depth and fill those two DP slots things would be looking a lot better. It’s fine having a goal of filling most of your roster with homegrown players but the 3 DP slots should always be filled. Then maybe you wouldn’t have 8-10k empty seats on a summer Saturday evening.

      • We’ve been singing this song for months, Slow. Is Curtis listening? *anybody* listening? Tonight’s result could easily have been different, but this team is sinking like a rock and July is not going to be any easier. I’m starting to believe the conspiracy theory that MLS put Curtis in this job to be a caretaker (with Marsch) for a year on the way to a sale. This ownership has blown a big opportunity and now faces a real risk of an implosion with the Mankees getting stronger. The next two matches, against NYCFC and the Cosmos, are of enormous symbolic importance.

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