The New York Red Bulls (9-5-4, 31 pts.) was facing a 16-game winless streak in Foxboro Stadium when it took on the hosts, New England Revolution, on Sunday afternoon in an MLS game, but the trend continued. The winless streak – now 17 games, including 13 losses and four draws – was extended because of the Red Bulls’ negative approach to the game. Instead of going on offense to score goals, which is how you win games, New York went into a defensive mode and played as if its primary purpose was not to allow a goal.
The problem with this defensive approach, a 4-1-4-1 formation with a lone forward, is that playing to not allow a goal could mean that you may not lose, but more importantly, you may not win either and this is anathema to the purpose of play games – which is to win. The fact that the Red Bulls were without starters Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, Jan Solli and Heath Pierce obviously influenced Hans Backe’s decision to go defensive, but the coach has to show confidence in his substitutes and allow them to approach the game in a positive manner.
The Red Bulls’ 2-0 loss to the Revolution was mostly because of such a defensive approach to the game, which resulted in New York’s zero shots on goal in the first half, while New England took a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute off a 22-yard shot by Lee Nguyen. The hosts went on offense from the outset, which is what you have to do to win games, especially playing at home.
New England imposed itself on the visitors, constantly getting behind a stacked New York defense with left winger Sauer Sene and Nguyen getting their share of shots at Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara. New England was playing with veteran midfielder Shalrie Joseph on the bench, so it was midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forward Blake Brettscheider who instigated the Revs offense and created numerous opportunities for themselves and their teammates.
Although the Red Bulls changed their approach and went on the offense in the second half, which led to lone striker Kenny Cooper’s shot that hit the crossbar in the 55th minute, it was still too little too late; the Revs were on go. Joseph came off the bench in the 80th minute to supply the assist on New England’s second goal. He received a pass from Sene, gave the return pass to send Sene in on goal for a point blank shot, which Meara saved, but the rebound fell to newly-signed Jerry Bengtson for his first goal in MLS in the 84th minute. Bengtson was the leading scorer in the Honduran National League. New York next hosts the Seattle Sounders at Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ) on Sunday in a 4:00 p.m. kick-off.