Impact defender Zakaria Diallo celebrates after scoring on a header during the second half against the Red Bulls. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. — Well, you can’t win them all, even a three-game homestand.
The Red Bulls’ hopes of taking all nine points from their most recent homestand were dashed during a 15-minute span in the second half as they saw a one-goal lead at Red Bull Arena go down the drain in a 2-1 defeat to the Montreal Impact Wednesday night.
The loss left the 10th-place Red Bulls at 3-5-2, accruing only 11 points in 10 matches. Montreal (20 points), on the other hand, improved to 6-4-2, winning at RBA for the first time.
Let’s face it. This hasn’t exactly been the start of the season New York had been hoping for.
“Yeah, it’s tough,” center back Aaron Long said. “But we are making the mistakes now and hopefully we’re going to hit a hot streak and go into the playoffs with a hot streak. That’s worked for a lot of teams in the past. So right now, we’re just trying to work out the kinks and trying to learn from our mistakes. By the time we get to the playoffs, we’ll be good to go.”
But right now, not good enough.
What made the loss even more confounding that it came only four days after rallying past the LA Galaxy at home Saturday, 3-2.
This performance came before a crowd of 11,115.
“There [are] no excuses really,” Long said. “We have to bring the same quality every game. We can’t get up for a big game against Galaxy on ESPN and then shut it down on a Wednesday midweek game. We have to bring the same thing every week. So, that’s on us.”
Long wasn’t the only one who walked off the pitch with a bad taste in his mouth.
“It’s really frustrating,” midfielder Sean Davis said. “We’re all disappointed with the result and the performance. Obviously Saturday was a huge step forward for us. Like we talked about after the game it was important to turn the page and be ready for the next game and Montreal at home. This is a game that, especially at this point in the season, we want to get three points and for us to come away with nothing is really frustrating.
“We have to take a hard look at this, and it feels like we’ve said that so many times this season already, but it’s really disappointing and one of the toughest things is we didn’t give away too much. We lost focus on set pieces, you know we give away a goal on a corner and a penalty, and then on the other end we don’t do well enough to maintain possession, create chances, so it’s hard to argue with the result if you’re brutally honest.”
To make matters worse, the Red Bulls are 3-3-0 at home after six games. In contrast, last year the Red Bulls lost but twice at RBA en route to a 14-2-1 mark and the Supporters Shield.
Only the reeling New England Revolution (2-8-2) has lost more home matches (four) than New York and the San Jose Earthquakes. On Wednesday night, the Chicago Fire rolled over the Revs, 5-0, as rumors bound that New England head coach Brad Friedel’s job was in serious jeopardy with a leaky defense on a team that can’t collect vital home points.
“You know, especially at home I think that’s been the most disappointing thing of all is our inability to win at home and see out games like this at home that in the past we would have full confidence in,” Davis said. And so like I said, we have to take a really hard look at the mirror, the players. We just have to be better, much better, and that’s on us.”
The game started on an optimistic note for the Red Bulls. After a foul just outside the penalty area, Marc Rzatkowski swung a free kick into the box for Long to head in the game’s first goal in the 36th minute. It was Long’s fifth MLS goal.
The Red Bulls collapsed during that 15-minute spell in the second half as Zakaria Diallo tallied his first goal off a Maxi Urruti feed that was initiated off a corner kick in the 64th minute before Urruti himself converted a penalty kick for the game-winning goal in the 79th minute.