The Baby Bulls traveled north to Connecticut's capital city to take on a very strong Hartford Athletic side that is currently sitting on top of Group F, tied on points with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
After losing three straight matches, John Wolyniec's find themselves in "must-win" mode, and desperate for points to break the slide. Simply put, a win was needed if they want to begin to gain ground on the leaders so they can be one of the top two teams of the group to advance to the USL Championship playoffs.
Mistakes have been a common theme with the Red Bulls in every loss during this losing streak, and with goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley out due to a red card during a loss to Loudon United on Wednesday, coach Wolyniec relied on Alex Bobocea for this match.
Both teams would have quality scoring chances, with Hartford Athletic testing Alex Bobcea early and often. The Red Bulls nearly got on the board early, but Deri Corfe's shot went wide in front of a wide-open net. However, it would be the home side that would score first. Danny Barrera launched a perfect ball in the box that Alexander Dixon would head it in the back of the net in the 21st minute.
A wild exchange that featured a crunching tackle on John Tolkin causing John Wolyniec to remonstrate on the sidelines and with the fourth official, even as an apparent handball seen by just about everyone in the stadium was not called.
However, those key mistakes that hounded the Red Bulls like a dark cloud would rear its ugly head yet again. Following a corner kick, Hartford midfielder Danny Berrera launched a floater high and in the box, but Alex Bobocea couldn't hold on to the ball, and Sam Strong pounced on it to score his first-ever professional goal to put the Athletic up by two in the 40th minute.
The Red Bulls would straighten themselves out as the second half began, putting some decent pressure on Hartford, but turnovers in the midfield would stifle any opportunities that would develop into possible scoring chances.
Just when Hartford was beginning to close down the game, the Red Bulls would finally answer. Dantouma Toure immediately put pressure on Danny Berrera, dribbled past him to past the ball over to Caden Clark, who found Sebastian Elney at the center of the box, and he did not miss from there, powering the ball past Athletic goalkeeper Partfait Mandanda to put them on the board in 74th minute.
Nonetheless, the Red Bulls would get no closer as Harford was able to close out the match, securing their lead and the top spot in Group F, and sending New York to their fourth straight defeat.
This match ended up being a frustrating loss for John Wolyniec's crew. Finding themselves losing four straight matched in their history is one thing, sloppy, mistake-filled play is another. For a team with so much promise, so much talent, this team just isn't there yet to contend with the elite teams in the USL Championship at the moment. The good news, it's early. And should the Red Bulls snap out it and win a couple of matches, things could change in an instant in round-robin play.
by: Garry Redman