HARRISON, N.J. –The steam might be running out of the Red Bulls playoff ship as the dropped a 2-1 home decision to the Revolution on Sunday afternoon in the first leg of the Eastern Conference finals. The result makes for a tall task next Saturday at Gillette Stadium. Next Saturday’s match is at New England, a place where the Red Bulls have won just once since 2002.
New York now needs to win and win big in the second leg if they are going to advance to just the second ever MLS Cup in franchise history.
“Listen, no matter who is out there next weekend. There is no game after that to look forward to if you don’t get the job done. However we get it done next weekend we have to, that’s it,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said. “That’s the beauty of sports right there: Guys need to step up in big situations. I need to step up this week; the coaching staff does. Simple as that.”
Petke lamented the lack of finishing on the “dozen or so chances that we had.” The Red Bulls had 18 shots on goal compared to just eight for the Revolution.
Referee Allan Chapman had a number of questionable calls, including letting Red Bulls midfielder Peguy Luyindula be taken down in the penalty area in the 11th minute in what would have been a clear goal scoring opportunity. There was a total of 10 yellow cards handed out and 29 fouls whistled in what was a rather unevenly called game.
Petke saw the six yellow cards for his team, including a puzzling one to Thierry Henry and a questionable one for Bradley Wright-Phillips and could only shake his head after the match.
“The referee lost control of the game tonight for both teams, for both. I almost wanted to get a yellow card because I felt left out,” Petke said. “I know it sounds funny, I’m not trying to be a funny guy here. But besides that, I’m not going to comment on it.”
Wright-Phillips yellow card in the 60th minute carries major consequences. The league’s top goal scorer with 27 goals, tied for the most in MLS history, will have to sit out Saturday’s match due to yellow card accumulation.
It makes a tough task in New England appear almost impossible.