LOS ANGELES — Once considered the best defensive unit in all of Major League Soccer, the Red Bulls are in a meltdown mode.
Case in point:
Sunday night’s 4-2 defeat to the Los Angeles Football Club at Banc of California Stadium.
Now, it is no great shame to lose to the second-year expansion team, but the Red Bulls’ defense has been shaky and inconsistent of late. In fact, they have allowed three or more goals in three of their last three games.
It was more of the same Sunday night as LAFC (17-3-4, 55 points), runaway leaders in the Western Conference, snapped a 2-2 deadlock in the second half as Carlos Vela converted a penalty kick in the 61st minute before a free kick set up Eddie Segura in the 72nd minute.
Vela, who leads the league with 23 goals, finished with a goal and one assist.
The loss left the Red Bulls (37 points) in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a rather mediocre 11-10-4 mark. They have surrendered 38 goals in 23 games with 11 matches remaining in the regular season. Last year they conceded only 33 goals.
Despite enjoying better possession in the early going, the Red Bulls could not find the net. Instead, the hosts struck within a two-minute span.
First, Jordan Harvey, off a Vela free kick, headed the ball past goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 23rd minute.
Only two minutes later, LAFC was celebrating again as Latif Blessing found the net for a two-goal advantage.
The Red Bulls, however, finally found themselves late in the half with two goals in a three-minute span. Cristian Casseres Jr. connected in the 42nd minute before New York equalized on an own goal in the 45th minute. Brian White fired a shot off the left post that hit the back of goalkeeper Tyler Miller and bounded into the net.