Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch could not believe what he saw from and in his team. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. — In the post-game mortem of a morbid Red Bulls locker room Sunday night, the team’s three leaders grasped for answers as to why the team hit rock bottom against the LA Galaxy.
Despite playing one of the league’s bottom feeders, the Red Bulls did not look anywhere near themselves in what turned into a 3-1 fiasco of a defeat at Red Bull Arena. The loss snapped the team’s 19-game regular-season home unbeaten streak.
Words such as terrible, beatdown, embarrassing and amateur team were used by the likes of team leaders Bradley Wright-Phillips, Luis Robles and Sacha Kljestan.
“Let’s call it what it is. It was a beat down,” Robles said. “LA showed us how to play soccer. They showed us what an inspired team looks like and they needed the result just as bad as we do. At the end of the day I almost feel a little embarrassed just by my own performance, by our team’s performance, our entire disposition towards that first half.
“I apologize to anyone who had to pay to watch that. I apologize to our season ticket holders. It’s just not the type of performance that we should ever put on display when we’re at Red Bull Arena.”
Robles, who just played in his league-record 151st consecutive match, was far from alone in his assessment of what turned into a disaster at RBA. The Galaxy grabbed a two-goal lead after nine minutes and never looked back, forcing the hosts to chase the match and the Red Bulls won’t win any awards for what transpired.
“The counter-press wasn’t good. The passing wasn’t good. We created nothing,” Wright-Phillips said.
Only chaos at halftime and in the locker room.
“It’s a bit bizarre to me,” said Kljestan, the team captain. “I can’t figure it out. We talked all week about being us, doing what makes us so good, especially when we play at home. The first 20 minutes of the game we come out and play like an amateur team. I think some guys are lacking in confidence right now or are not confident on the ball and it’s hurting us. Then physically, the first 20 minutes of the game we lost every battle. So disappointing.”
Down 2-0 at the half, head coach Jesse Marsch had a few words to say to his team. So did Kljestan.
“At halftime I said, ‘we can’t waste a second in this second half, we have to use every ounce of us to try and get us back in this game, win every battle physically, try to create chances,’ “ he said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it. Jesse was hard on us at halftime, and I told the guys it could have been ten times harder because it was a bit embarrassing the way played today.”
The Red Bulls have five days to get their heads turned on straight as Toronto FC, arguably the hottest team in the league, comes to down for a Friday night tussle.
If the Red Bulls play like they did Sunday, the game could turn into a farce very quickly.
“It’s going to take some looking in the mirror at myself to do what I can do to try to rally the guys,” Kljestan said. “We’ve got to bounce back. We’ve got a big game Friday against probably the best team in the league right now. It’s going to be very difficult. no matter how we play on Friday, it’s going to be a long 90 minutes. It’s going to be a very tough game.
“We’ve got to bounce back.”
“Hopefully we can show the fans a better performance than that because that was terrible,” BWP said.