The New York Red Bulls finished the 2019 regular season with a reminder of their long term struggles this season for consistency, dropping a lopsided loss against the Montreal Impact.
After completing a rare unbeaten run in their previous four matches, the chance to end the season on a high note eluded the Red Bulls. Even with the return of Brian White, there was little to celebrate for the Red Bulls. The Impact spread the scoring out among three players, seeing off the Red Bulls 3-0.
The scoreline alone might trouble Red Bull fans, but the team’s lack of effort should be equally concerning. While there was little to play for in the match, the Red Bulls dropped down to 6th place and a trip to Talen Energy Stadium in the opening round of the MLS Playoffs.
The Impact seemingly opened the scoring in the 10th minute. A goal mouth scramble led to the ball finding the back of the Red Bulls net, but Orji Okwonkwo was judged offside and Saphir Tadïr’s goal was overruled. The buildup started following a poor giveaway in midfield by Sean Davis.
The Impact did open the scoring in the 22nd minute however. Following an attacking flourish from the Red Bulls, the Impact sprung a counter attack. Okwonko raced down the left side of the Red Bulls defense, then sent in a low cross to Bojan on a trailing run. Bojan easily tapped in the finish. The Red Bulls also lost Kyle Duncan on the play. The defender pulled up lame chasing down Okwonkwo and left the match, replaced by Michael Murillo. The goal also ended the Red Bulls 240 minute shutout streak.
The Impact doubled their lead in the 28th minute. Michael Murillo, caught napping, allowed Jukka Raitala space behind. Raitala’s breakaway, thwarted by Murillo’s heavy challenge, led to a penalty shout. No penalty was given. As Murillo attempted to clear the ball out, Luis Robles tried to appeal offside to thee ref, thinking the ball was no longer in play. Maxi Urruti collected the ball and fired in from a sharp angle, punishing the Red Bulls for their lapse of concentration.
The Impact added a third in the second half. This time, it was Okwonkwo getting his name on the scoresheet in the 62nd minute. Saphir Taidïr sent a cross to the back post, finding Okwonkwo in the space between Michael Murillo and Tim Parker. Okwonkwo easily headed the ball past Robles unchallenged. Any expectation around a second half comeback evaporated following the goal. The Red Bulls decision day malaise leaves it’s mark on the season and the upcoming playoffs.
The Red Bulls finish the season 14-14-6 and travel to face the Philadelphia Union in the first round of the MLS Playoffs. Any playoff success relies on getting results on the road. If they replicate their form on decision day, it will be a short lived excursion.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography