Kaku can’t believe Pedro Santos scored the game-winner in the 84th minute. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. — This home defeat really hurt, perhaps a little more than many other losses.
The Red Bulls fell at Red Bull Arena for the first time since May 8 in their 3-2 setback to Columbus Crew SC, which won on the road for only the second time this MLS season.
Pedro Santos’ second goal of the match in the 84th minute snapped a 2-2 deadlock before a crowd of 16,126. After a save by goalkeeper Luis Robles, Columbus’ Pedro Santos picked up the loose ball and put home the game-winner.
New York (34 points), which is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, dropped to 10-9-4 while 19th-place Columbus (24) improved to 7-14-3.
The Red Bulls are 7-4-1 at home while Columbus is 2-8-1 on the road.
“We got out-dueled, we got out competed, we got outscored,” said Robles, the team captain. “The worst part is it’s at home, right in front of our fans, which doesn’t do us any favors, especially when you look at the standings.”
The Red Bulls just can’t get their act together to be consistent for a long period of time, which has frustrated the team.
“We didn’t have too many complete team performances,” midfielder Daniel Royer said. “I think we’ve either done really well offensively or defensively, but not too many times where we add both together. Yeah, and I think that’s, that’s one reason why it’s always an up and down season so far.”
The Red Bulls, who averaged conceding just about a goal a game last season, already has allowed 34 in 23 games, with 11 matches remaining.
“It just comes down to effort,” Robles said. “It comes down to mentality. It wasn’t there today. Maybe I’m being a little harsh, but I think it’s real. And we’re professionals here. As a professional, we have to face the reality that sometimes it’s not good enough, and we have to be better.”
Forward Brian White had given the hosts the lead in the 15th minute. Marc Rzatkowski served a pass inside the box for White. With two players on his back, White flicked the pass with his head to the near post for his eighth goal this season. White has scored a goal in five of his last seven matches.
“I just tried to pick up a dangerous position in between the two center backs,” White said. “Marc played a great ball and I was the only one that could get to it.”
Columbus, however, struck back only a minute later behind Luis Argudo.
A minute into the second half, the visitors grabbed a 2-1 lead behind Santos’ first score.
The visitors played more long ball to avoid the Red Bulls’ high pressure tactics, and it worked.
“Columbus did on the night is what we’ve seen a lot of teams do,” head coach Chris Armas said. “They came here, they changed their tactics. They really changed their approach to what they want to do to us, and that approach can be disruptive to any team.”
Royer converted a penalty kick in the 63rd minute. Following a lengthy discussion of a foul inside the box, Royer was awarded a penalty kick after going to Video Assistant Referee. Royer finished to his left for a 2-2 tie.
The Austrian winger moved into a tie with Bradley Wright-Phillips for third all-time in franchise history with eight penalty kick goals.