Andres Reyes (left), who scored an own goal for Montreal, battles Ariel Lassiter for the ball. ( Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
The Red Bulls season from hell continued on Saturday night as they lost to the worst team in the MLS Eastern Conference.
Of course, their own supporters might be called the Red Bulls that.
Despite playing with a man advantage for the final 25 minutes of regulation and another five minutes of stoppage time, the Red Bulls lost to 10-man CF Montreal, 2-0, at Stade Saputo in Montreal.
Center back Andres Reyes’ first-half own goal turned out to be the game, while Mathieu Choiniere added an insurance tally off a counterattack two minutes into injury time.
It turned out to be another frustrating result for the reeling Red Bulls, who were given an opportunity to equalize after Ilias Iliadis was red carded in the 65th minute after a couple of fouls on right back Kyle Duncan.
It didn’t matter as the Red Bulls, who have scored but six goals in nine matches into the MLS season.
With a little more than a quarter of their 34-game schedule under their belt, the 13th-place Red Bulls have but one win to show for their efforts as their record fell to an abysmal 1-3-5, accruing only eight points out of a possible 27. And worse, the Red Bulls lost to a team that has conceded a league-high 17 goals.
Montreal, meanwhile, improved to 2-6-0 and six points, although the team remained in last at the No. 15 spot.
“I feel like the responsibility is more so on our side,” Red Bulls captain and center back Sean Nealis said during a Zoom press conference. “We’re the guys on the field and we have to get the job done. Obviously big disappointment. Tonight, especially going up a man for 30 minutes or 20 plus minutes and obviously we just didn’t get the job done and we have to improve and you know, it’s not good enough on our part, on the players part.”
Asked if the players felt pressure, Nealis replied, “I think there’s pressure every game to perform and obviously we didn’t do it today. So there’s a lot of disappointment. There’s a lot of frustration. I think like I said earlier, we need to be better. We have to look ourselves in the mirror, especially the players. You know, we didn’t go out and perform to the best of our ability and it showed today with a result that didn’t go our way.”
For an away team, the Red Bulls did a decent job of attacking the opposing goal in the opening half.
But there was one thing going against them – their inability to put the ball on the net.
They had two excellent chances in the opening quarter hour as Wiki Carmona, making his first start of the season, fired a shot from the top of the box that just went right in the seventh minute.
Six minutes later, right back Duncan produced a nice run on that side of the pitch before sending Cory Burke a pass. Instead of passing to an open teammate on his left side, Burke decided to shoot and it sailed well over the net.
Montreal celebrated the first goal of the match in the 25th minute when a diving Reyes, trying to clear a right-wing feed from Aaron Herrera out of harm’s way but nudged the ball into the lower left corner past goalkeeper Carlos Coronel for a 1-0 lead.
Within seconds in the 38th minute, the hosts almost doubled their lead with two glorious chances. Bryce Duke powered a shot that Coronel punched away for a corner kick. Victor Wanyama almost tallied off the set piece as his right-footed attempt from the box was gathered in by the Brazilian keeper.
“We were on the ball for periods of the game and I think we have to be better in that regard and being more dangerous and capitalizing on these moments,” Nealis said.
“It’s still early in the season. I’m a pretty optimistic person in that regard. I think we’ll all get more out of each other and I think the mood is obviously frustration here. But that’s a good thing. We demand more of each other. And I think that’ll show this week.”
Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber had seen enough of Burke and replaced him at halftime with Tom Barlow.
Duncan probably had the Red Bulls’ best scoring opportunity of the second half, when his header off a corner kick was gathered in by goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois in the 83rd minute.
Duncan, however, did not see the end of the match as he was forced from the game in the 85th minute with an injury, as he was replaced by Dru Yearwood.
Regardless of Duncan’s condition, he will suspended for the Red Bulls next match at the Chicago Fire as he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.