Gerhard Struber was quite unhappy with the Red Bulls’ effort. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Gerhard Struber did not mince his words.

“It’s very painful,” he said.

Very painful for the Red Bulls head coach.

Very painful for his players.

And very painful for the team’s ardent supporters as their hopes for their first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship went down the drain thanks to an abysmal second-half performance in a 5-1 debacle of a loss to Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium on Wednesday night.

Orlando advanced to the final, where it will host the winner of Wednesday night’s confrontation between the Sacramento Republic SC and Sporting Kansas City.

The Red Bulls? They will fly home to take on Barcelona in an international friendly at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.

The less said the better about the Red Bulls’ horrid match.

But Struber had plenty to say.

“In a knockout game that you come into the final, you have to invest everything, and you leave everything together on the field,” he said. “I missed this a little bit and especially in our identity.”

Struber added the team did not have players “with the right energy in the system; [it] crashed and today I think we can see what could happen when we have not fresh legs, not the fresh brain and not the belief in energy what we have normally.”

The Red Bulls were coming off an emotional and wild 4-3 win at Austin FC on Sunday night. Struber rested several key players, including Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan, as starters.

Enjoying a one-goal lead in first-half stoppage time behind Morgan’s goal, they allowed the Lions to equalize deep into added time.

It was final play of the half, and no one realized that it was the beginning of the Red Bulls’ downfall. We just had to wait for the second half to begin to watch the rest of what turned into a train wreck. It was the worst 45 minutes the team had played all season as New York conceded four goals and looked disorganized as the defense – team and backline – was stretched past its limit.

“I would say if it was not ready second half,” Struber said. I was absolutely unhappy with our performance in the end. You cannot step into [the field in a final when you have not physically power and the mental belief to change the result. And I missed a little bit resilience from the last few months.”

Struber felt the center backs were giving the Orlando forwards way too much space.

“When they get space and time then they have they can create something,” he said.

Such as goals.

Such as five goals.

You kind of get the idea that Struber was quite disturbed by his team’s performance.

When a reporter asked Struber to praise Morgan, who tallied the Red Bulls’ lone goal, the head coach said his midfielder had plenty of talent but did not play well on both sides of the ball.

“Yeah, but you have so big talent like Lewis Morgan?” he said. “So high, technical power what he has done I can say of course always I’m very happy and I’m a lucky man to have a player on this level. On the same time. I cannot say always, I am very happy you have a big talent. For me, it’s more when players have the power and the energy to leave everything on the field. Sometimes they have maybe not so high talented ability, but they left everything on the field. Today I must say what he created in the attacking area is outstanding and helped us the last few months.

“At the same time, he was also ready to work our philosophy or make big steps in the last few months. But today I must say of course he shot the goal, but I was not happy with his performance against the ball and what he did in defense action. … We are very happy with a player like him. But we have to be also critical with ourselves what we have to do better in the next time.”