A matter of a few inches denied the Red Bulls their first win of the season last Saturday.
After rallying to take a 2-1 lead against the Montreal Impact, New York had the opportunity to put the game to rest early in the second half. Bradley Wright-Phillips was fouled in the penalty box by Montreal’s Matteo Ferrari in the 47th minute and it was Péguy Luyindula who stepped to take the spot kick to give the Red Bulls a two-goal lead.
Luyindula did everything correctly … expect hit the target. He struck the woodwork instead of the back of the net and the chance was gone. Just 12 minutes later, the Impact would knot the game at 2-2 through Felipe Martins’ equalizer. It was destined to be another frustrating draw for the Red Bulls, so close to their first win of the season, but denied by a bit of luck.
“Looking at that penalty kick, it’s unfortunate,” coach Mike Petke said in his postmatch press conference. “That would have put us in a very good position.”
Nevertheless, to get a point with a squad that was at less than full strength and without Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave, was still a good result. While New York had the lead heading into the halftime interval, they certainly didn’t control the game well as they liked and were bailed out countless times by goalie Luis Robles, who made a career-high nine saves.
"Anytime our goalkeeper makes saves like that, you're always pleased with him,” Petke said. ”At the end of the day, I think that he possibly did bail us out a bit [Saturday]. They got behind us quite a bit, had some opportunities, but Luis did well."
It would have been an impressive three points had New York pulled off the road victory, considering how ravaged the Red Bulls had been by injuries. Tim Cahill and Richard Eckersley were already out before the match against Montreal due to long-term knocks. Dax McCarty didn’t start the match due to a back injury, but was called upon to replace Roy Miller after the left back came off at halftime due to Achilles inflammation. If that wasn’t enough, Armando had to be taken off in the 84th minute due to hamstring tightness.
In spite of the roster reshuffling, the Red Bulls were able to gain a point, something they were happy to harp on afterwards.
“At the end of the day, there’s a point to take home,” Robles said postmatch. “And there were a lot of positives offensively. This was the first match we scored multiple goals and we had a lot of opportunities."
A LOOK AHEAD: SATURDAY AT DC UNITED
It’s a renewal of an old rivalry Saturday as the Red Bulls head down to the nation’s capital to take on DC United. Complete match coverage begins live at 6:30 PM on MSG+.
The Red Bulls were winners of the Atlantic Cup (given to the winner of the head-to-head series between the two Eastern Conference rivals) last season, going to 2-0-1 against DC United.
New York’s starting XI will undoubtedly be boosted with Henry and Olave expected to make their returns after being spared the punishment of the artificial turf at the Olympic Stadium last week. Cahill is not expected to be available for the full 90 minutes Saturday, but could play a role off the bench should he come through this week’s training unscathed.
DC United is coming off its first win of the season last Saturday, after blanking the New England Revolution 2-0, snapping a 16-match league winless streak. In theory, the Black-and-Reds should have a fearsome attack. Former Red Bull Fabian Espindola and US international Eddie Johnson are the team’s two strikers, although only Espindola has found the back of the net this season.