HARRISON, N.J. — The losses, and the frustration, continue to mount for the New York Red Bulls.
On Saturday night, they dropped their third straight game, and second at Red Bull Arena for the first time since May, 2014, when they fell to Minnesota United, 2-1.
Red Bulls coach Chris Armas employed a new 4-3-1-2 formation and altered his starting XI. But the end result was more of the same.
“When we stick to who we are and force the issue a little bit, which is what we wanted for 90 minutes, not 45 or so, it looks more and feels more like us,” Armas said.
The first goal by Minnesota United (3-2-0, 9 points) came in the 34th minute when Abu Danladi tapped past Luis Robles with a first-time attempt after Angelo Rodriguez received a Romain Metanire cross and laid the ball off to him.
Danladi was off at halftime for Romario Ibarra, who made an instant impact with an insurance goal in the 50th minute. Again it was Rodriguez playing provider of sorts, holding up a Francisco Calvo cross and firing a shot that took a deflection off Aaron Long. The ball deflected to Ibarra, who volleyed home his second goal of the season.
“It’s in that situation where what can go wrong goes wrong, and we get punished when things go wrong,” Robles said. “Yet, the only way to climb out of it is one step at a time and every guy pulls his weight and that’s where we’re at.”
The Red Bulls (1-3-1, 4 points) cut their deficit in half 20 minutes later on Cristian Casseres Jr.’s first MLS goal. Tim Parker latched onto a Sean Davis corner kick and put his headed attempt on frame. Vito Mannone made the save, but Casseres Jr. pounced on the rebound and slammed it into the back of the net.
“It’s a goal, a very important goal in my career and in my life. It’s my first goal here,” Casseres said through a translator. “I’m grateful for that, I’m happy.”
Apr 6, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
But the Red Bulls couldn’t complete the rally and fell yet again. It’s a slump that hasn’t happened around the club in a few years, but there’s a strong belief that the club can dig out of the hole.
“I believe in the team. They give me the confidence and the staff is working hard,” Armas said. “I think we’ve gotten a lot right in preparation, and now the results are going to come our way. They do. When you work as hard as we do and you see things clearly the way we are and you have guys that stick together and believe in each other and believe in who we are, it makes me maybe sleep good at night. But certainly I’ll be working even harder.”
While the Red Bulls search for answers and will prepare to hit the road to take on Sporting Kansas City next weekend, the Loons end a season-opening road trip with three wins in five games and Saturday night’s win is the perfect result to go into the opening of Allianz Field next Saturday.
“Different mentality, different group,” Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said when comparing to a team lat year that went 1-14-2 away from home. “You go from the middle of last year, [adding] Angelo, Romario and Darwin, plus the five we’ve added this year, in less than six months it’s like eight players who are new in the team. And we’ve added really important pieces with Ozzie Alonso, Ike Opara, Vito in goal, Romain. We’ve added a lot of experience.”