Red Bulls defender Tom Edwards (7) is defended by Charlotte FC forward Daniel Rios. (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)
The next time the Red Bulls play at home, there might be a little more pressure on them than usual.
That’s because the team, once invincible on the road, dropped its second match away from Red Bull Arena.
Playing its first game under interim head coach Christian Lattanzio, Charlotte FC registered a 2-0 victory over the Red Bulls before a crowd of 32,064 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday.
The Red Bulls, who started the season unbeaten on the road, dropped 5-2-1 away from home. At RBA, they are an abysmal 1-2-4, gathering only seven points out of a possible 21. New York is 6-4-5 overall while Charlotte improved to 6-8-1. Lattanzio replaced head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez, who was fired 14 games into the season last week.
Ben Bender scored his third of the season, four minutes into first-half stoppage time and Derrick Jones added the insurance tally, his first, a minute into second-half injury time.
On May 25, the Red Bulls eliminated this same Charlotte FC team in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup via a 3-1 win.
The visitors played well below their potential. Midfielder Omir Fernandez was an invisible man in the first half and was pulled at halftime. Another midfielder, Luquinhas, who is considered by many to be the team’s best attacking threat, was never a major factor.
Let’s face it. No one was jumping for joy in the Red Bulls’ locker room.
“I have a very bad feeling at the moment for me for my boys,” head coach Gerhard Struber said. “We expect in the end today a different performance in the end, also a different result.
“Today it was not enough to win, not enough to pick up a point here. This makes me very, very disappointed today and angry.”
Struber got very little argument from defender Sean Nealis.
“A lot of disappointment from everybody,” he said. “We had a strong road record to start this year. We wanted to continue that trend. The last two road games we haven’t been able to put out the result we wanted.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow today.”
Struber felt it came down to the mentality of the Red Bulls’ inexperienced players.
“It is also a mental topic some young players I think cannot handle it the moment in a successful direction,” he said. “This is not easy to accept. We have high standards especially with the last few weeks how we grow, how our process is running. The standards go higher and the level goes higher. And then I think also when we lose the disappointment is much higher, like maybe in the last season right and I think right now it’s difficult for me to handle the situation like this.”
After a solid start by the Red Bulls in the opening 10 minutes, Charlotte took command for a good portion of the rest of the half, although neither side could penetrate the goal.
“I think the way we play there’s always going to be momentum swings in the game,” Nealis said. “The first 10-15 minutes, we kind of rolled over them and then whatever it was, we kind of just dipped in our in our play, whether it was the heat or possessing in the ball. Then it was unlucky goal for half. We shot ourselves in the foot.”
Until late in the half, the Red Bulls’ only shot on goal was a second-minute attempt by Frankie Amaya.
Charlotte pushed forward and held the ball for long periods of time. The hosts’ best chance came in the 27th minute when Christian Ortiz rifled a free kick from the left side over the crossbar.
The home side tried to take an advantage of a mistake by John Tolkin but couldn’t convert as Andre Shinyashiki booted his attempt wide left in the 40th minute.
Four minutes later, midfielder Lewis Morgan had the visitors’ best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes as he bolted in from the left side but was denied by goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina. While scurrying for the rebound, Patryk Klimala could not get to the ball as he accidently clipped Kahlina. Klimala was awarded a yellow card.
Charlotte found the net in the 45th minute when Bender drilled a 22-yard shot from the left side that deflected off defender Tom Edwards and past keeper Carlos Coronel to grab a 1-0 halftime advantage.
Back-to-back matches with a Ben Bender GOAL! pic.twitter.com/T485bz8lQU
— Charlotte FC (@CharlotteFC) June 11, 2022
The Red Bulls apparently were awarded a penalty by referee Guido Gonzales Jr. in the 58th minute after halftime substitute Ashley Fletcher went down in the box while he battled for the ball with Charlotte’s Guzman Corujo. However, VAR overturned the call three minutes later.
Coronel kept the Red Bulls’ prospects live by denying Shinyashiki going 1 v 1 in the 81st minute. Four minutes later, Coronel stopped Daniel Rios off a counterattack, from six yards.
Jones put the icing on the cake in the first of what would be seven minutes of added time as he had an easy tap in of a Sergio Ruiz feed from the left side for the insurance score.
“The second half we ended up chasing the game and got a little too spread from front to back,” Nealis said. “I think that hurt us in the end.”
The Red Bulls’ next game is at home against Toronto FC next week.
“We just have to regroup reevaluate ourselves, delve into the video sessions and have a hard look at ourselves in the mirror and see what went wrong and how can we get back to our winning ways,” Nealis said