The Red Bulls’ recent inability to win has been tough to take, even for Luquinhas. (Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

There is a great scene in the iconic baseball movie Bull Durham in which the veteran catcher, played by Kevin Costner, goes out to the mound to talk to his rookie pitcher, played by Tim Robbins.

He implores his battery mate to throw at the bull mascot.

So, Robbins’ character complies.

Costner, while looking incredulous, says to the batter, ” I don’t where the ball is going. I really don’t.”

Which brings us another team named bull, the 2022 Red Bulls.

We just don’t know what we’re going to get from this team, game to game.

Actually, long-time and sarcastic Red Bulls supporters know what they’re going to watch from game to game: sub-par soccer.

It seems when the attack is good, the defense suffers. And vice versa.

After a promising start to the MLS season, the Red Bulls are in a free fall, as they just can’t get their act together.

In their last five games across all competitions, they are winless (0-4-1). Subtract the 2-0 friendly loss to Barcelona they are 0-3-1 during that stretch.

This winless stretch began with a gutsy 4-3 triumph on July 24 at Austin FC, one of the leading teams in the Western Conference, using younger players as the Red Bulls got their ducks in a row for their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal encounter at Orlando City SC three days later.

Then disaster struck just before halftime. Enjoying a 1-0 lead in stoppage time, the Red Bulls allowed the Lions to equalize. They were never the same after that, surrendering four second-half goals in what turned into a disastrous and embarrassing performance in a 5-1 horrendous defeat.

While it was only a friendly against one of the top club sides in the world, the Red Bulls went down to a 2-0 loss at Red Bull Arena on July 30.

The downward defensive slide continued with a 5-4 loss to the Colorado Rapids at RBA on Aug. 2. How bad was this abysmal performance? The Red Bulls lost a two-goal lead – at home, conceding three goals over the final 13 minutes to turn a 3-2 advantage upside. And oh yeah, the Rapids hadn’t won on the road until that point.

The Red Bulls “bounced back” with a scoreless draw at D.C. United (the team is in last and 14th place in the East, trailing its nearest team, Atlanta United, by seven points). At that juncture, a draw on the road against one of the worst MLS teams was considered a victory.

But the team returned to its losing ways in Aug. 13’s 1-0 home defeat against Orlando, the same side that shut the Open Cup door on the team only weeks prior.

On paper, that one-goal result might look much closer than what transpired on the field because the visitors dominated the game. Worse, the Red Bulls played as they had gotten together for the first time. This side needs everyone to work together to secure three points.

Here’s another entry in the Statistics Are For Losers Dept.:

The Red Bulls enjoyed a ridiculous 15-2 shot advantage over Orlando. But let’s drill down deeper than that. Both teams placed a shot on goal, with the Lions putting one in. Sometimes it is not the quantity of shots, but the quality taken.

And speaking of the attack, although sometimes it is difficult to call it that, except for Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan, there hasn’t been enough consistency up front.

Let’s face it, Patryk Klimala, who cost the Red Bulls a reported few million in his transfer from Celtic last season, has been an out-and-out failure. He has found the net but 12 times in 52 matches over the last two seasons. He has 10 assists.

This year has been a horrible one for the 24-year-old former Polish youth international, registering only four goals and three assists in 23 starts. In fact, Klimala hasn’t been an automatic starter, losing that role to Tom Barlow, and Barlow, a hard worker, never will be considered the second coming of Taty Castellanos. In case you were wondering, Klimala is in the midst of a personal 12-game scoreless streak, last finding the net in an MLS match in a 3-3 draw against the Chicago Fire on May 18.

This striker has struck out.

Fortunately for the Red Bulls, they are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 10-8-7 mark and 37 points

Fortunately for the Red Bulls, they have 11 games remaining in this season to get their act together.

Unfortunately, they have been downright incompetent at home, which should be a team’s fortress, and not a sieve. The Red Bulls are a mind-boggling 3-5-4 in what everyone once thought was the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena. Let’s use some basic soccer math here: They have squandered 13 out of a possible 36 home points.

Thirteen points! That’s just slightly more than a third of the points.

That certainly is not a road the playoffs, let alone a league championship.

Red Bulls optimists might note the team is an impressive 7-3-3 on the road (the most points – 24 – secured on the road) but teams traditionally use their home record as the backbone of their success.

Unfortunately, they have a host of teams – Columbus Crew (34), Orlando, Inter Miami CF, New York Revolution and FC Cincinnati (33 each) – that are just about breathing down their necks as the league starts to enter its stretch run. The top seven teams in each conference qualify for the postseason.

The Red Bulls can start turning around their fortunes against Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

New York has enjoyed some great success against that southern side since Atlanta joined the league in 2017. But history doesn’t matter now. The present does, which will affect the future – ie. the playoffs.

If head coach Gerhard Struber can’t right this ship that has been taking on water for the past three weeks, Red Bulls fans might be chanting a familiar refrain that the franchise supporters have moaned over 26 seasons entering this season:

Wait ’til next year.

So what are we going to get from the Red Bulls the remaining two months of the season?

At the present time, just don’t know.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at