Red Bulls defender Andrew Gutman (5) and defender Andres Reyes (4) gesture for an offside call on a goal by Chicago Fire forward Robert Beric (not pictured), but they didn’t get the call. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
It’s difficult to say if the Red Bulls have hit rock bottom this season because they seem to disappoint their fans in many of their matches.
On Saturday night, they lost to a team that hadn’t won in 19 road games. That’s correct – Chicago Fire FC hadn’t won away from home in 19 matches.
The visitors made sure they snapped that ignominious winless streak by registering a 1-0 win before 12,018 spectators at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Saturday night.
Fire FC (6-11-5, 23 points) climbed over the woeful Red Bulls (6-10-4, 22) into 12th place in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re all incredibly frustrated right now,” defender John Tolkin said. “It was kind of a repeat of our last game against them. We’re disappointed with the goal we conceded off the throw-in. I think just in general we need to take a look in the mirror and really figure out what’s going on for us right now, which is missing these little moments in the game that are killing us.”
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) August 29, 2021
Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber felt his team lacked a killer instinct.
“The feeling right now, it’s not on the best level with me and also with my players,” he said. “We expect[ed] today a win. We trained the whole week in this direction, in a very good direction with hungry boys … and also the right killer instinct to score goals. When we look back on this game, then is this exactly the missing link, we are not hungry enough to create in the end big chances and score.”
Chicago scored the game’s lone goal in the 32nd minute, although it took a few minutes before the side could celebrate it. The scoring sequence started with a throw-in into a pack of players the penalty area. The ball hit Andrew Gutman and came off the leg of Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark and Robert Bercic, standing alone about six yards out, slotted the ball past goalkeeper Carlos Coronel.
Red Bulls defender raised their hands signifying Brcic was offside, but referee Victor Rivas decided to double check with VAR. After viewing the play, he decided to give Chicago the goal.
Never in doubt. Berić gets on the board❗️ pic.twitter.com/MdEhBeC5WG
— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) August 28, 2021
“If we don’t concede that and I think it goes our way in the end,” Tolkin said.
The Red Bulls showed more urgency over the final 45 minutes, pushing up for the equalizer but many of their passes and shot were off mark as goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth walked out of RBA with a clean sheet.
Daniel Royer, who replaced Patryk Klimala in the 64th minute, immediately gave the hosts some energy and focus on the attack.
New York had an interesting opportunity in the 82nd minute as it was awarded a free kick just outside the box on the far left side. Captain Sean Davis took the kick and Royer eventually headed the ball wide right.
“Everybody around the team needs to do better, including myself,” Tolkin said. “I think we just need to be more creative when we get into the opponent’s half. It’s going to come eventually for us. We just need to find that momentum and keep going with it.”
The Red Bulls will have plenty of time to lick their wounds and get their act together. Due to the international break, they won’t play again until Sept. 11, when they host D.C. United.
Struber was hopeful the team could turn around its fortunes starting Sept. 11.
“It’s in our hand[s] that we change the situation in a better direction,” he said. “I have nevertheless lose today big trust in my boys.
But we need for the next weeks killers. We need hungry boys. They are ready with a big motivation to win the game in the end. Today, we make many things in a good way, but we miss a little bit the killer instinct. I think we have to work for that.”
If not, then the Red Bulls will find themselves looking at the MLS Cup Playoffs from the outside.