|photo from Matt Kremkau
That start was the worst I have ever seen this Red Bulls team perform in a very long time. Especially the backline who was in a regular four-man backline that switched off as soon as the opening whistle sounded. While Aaron Long has become the whipping boy to the fans of the USMNT on Twitter, he wasn't helped by his Center back partner Sean Nealis either.
Allowing Alexander Callens to camp into a spot between both center backs and allowed to stay onside and then spring into action by heading the ball with ease past a surprised and helpless Carlos Coronel was just putrid to watch. Not only did the switch off, but both were caught ball-watching and looked helpless.
Then the second goal came in the 23rd minute and Santiago Rodriguez was given a lane to walk free into the area and towards the net to fake out Coronel and score, this was an embarrassing display of players who left their passion for this Derby in the locker room and assumed it was going to be a cake walk. I can't fault the goalkeeper, because there is only so much he could do.
While they did regain some sense of pride and passion after being down two goals to nil, they couldn't convert chances to get back into the match. Even when Elias Manoel did score to pull one back, it was wiped out through VAR due to Aaron Long being offside when Lewis Morgan delivered the ball & Long's right foot was just ahead of the defender.
While Gerhard Struber has done a good job this season and, secured a large number of road points for the very first time this season for the club, currently in third place and is close to hosting a playoff game at Red Bull Arena, he has to take the blame on how he got this side ready to go and battle.
You can always be ready for big rivalry matches against DC United & Philadelphia Union all you want, but when you play against a rival that is just 30 minutes away down I-80, crossing the George Washington Bridge, and heading down south on the Major Deegan Expressway. You should know very well where you are going and who you are facing.
When this Rivalry got started in 2015 by Major League Soccer, Jesse Marsch had all of his players ready to go. Prepared them physically and mentally in the right direction. Swept the inaugural series and then the infamous Red Wedding in Yankee Stadium the next season happened. What you saw was a determination from Bradley Wright-Phillips, Mike Grella, Dax McCarty & substitutes Alex Muyl, Gonzalo Veron, and others to continue the same sentiment by being on the same page from the opening whistle to the closing whistle.
While this loss is not devastating, it does close the gap between both sides to a single point. With the international break coming now, Struber's Red Bulls can now relax and rethink what they need to do in their final two matches on the road in Columbus & finishing off the regular season by hosting Charlotte FC. While Aaron Long goes with the Senior side of the USMNT team, Caden Clark & Daniel Edelman will be away with the US U-20 Team at a mini tournament in Mexico.
If these two sides do meet in the playoffs, then the Red Bulls are going to need to bring that passion back and hard to show the fans, that they will defeat the Blue side of New York in utter heartbreak. That passion,l Energy, concentration & strength was missing today, and it needs to get back as quickly as possible.