Luis Robles: “When you look at the last two seasons, we have been one of the best teams in the league in defending and scoring on set pieces. Right now, we’re not, which is going to be a real problem down the stretch.” (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)
MONTREAL — The numbers don’t lie.
The Red Bulls have surrendered 21 goals this season and 11 have come off set pieces.
No. 11 came Saturday night when the Montreal Impact took advantage of a quick free kick, which resulted in Designated Player Blerim Dzemaili’s connecting for the lone goal of the match in the 67th minute.
The Montreal Impact won, 1-0.
Allowing more than 50 percent of your goals is the mark of a losing team and it is not surprising that the Red Bulls dropped below .500 with the loss to 6-7-2, at Stade Saputo. Despite a losing record, the Red Bulls were in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, still above the red line that separates playoff teams and ones that become November spectators.
“It’s a very concerning trend,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “We think about that number; if we could even defend half of those, how our season would be.”
Robles realized the team has to find a solution to this perplexing problem as soon as possible as they are about to hit the halfway mark in the 2017 MLS season.
“That doesn’t change my belief in the guys,” he said. “We look at some of our performances, our effort tonight, and it’s really too bad we couldn’t reward ourselves with something. When we consider set pieces, it’s troubling and we need to figure this out and quick.
“When you look at the last two seasons, we have been one of the best teams in the league in defending and scoring on set pieces. Right now, we’re not, which is going to be a real problem down the stretch. When you look around the world, a lot of games are decided on set pieces. If we can figure it out, it’s going to be a big step.”
If not, it could be a big step out of the playoff picture.