Red Bulls Come Back, But Too Little, Drop 3-2 To Crew

New York Red Bulls 2, Columbus Crew SC 3
MLS Regular Season Match 21
Saturday, July 28, 2018 - 7 p.m. ET
Red Bull Arena | Harrison, N.J.
Scoring Summary: 
CLB - Jonathan Mensah 1 (Mullins, Santos) 7'
CLB - Patrick Mullins 1 (Afful, Valenzuela) 24'
CLB - Sean Davis (OG) 31'
NY - Jonathan Mensah (OG) 50'
NY - Daniel Royer 6 (Kaku, Adams) 69'
Misconduct Summary:
NY - Aurelien Collin (caution, unsporting behavior) 21'
CLB - Milton Valenzuela (caution, unsporting behavior) 56'
CLB - Zack Steffen (caution, time wasting) 76'
CLB - Artur (caution, persistent infringement) 90'
New York Red Bulls: Luis Robles ©; Michael Amir Murillo, Aurelien Collin (Kaku, HT), Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Connor Lade, Sean Davis (Bradley Wright-Phillips, HT), Tyler Adams, Marc Rzatkowski, Daniel Royer, Derrick Etienne, Jr. (Alex Muyl, 69')
Columbus Crew SC: Zack Steffen; Milton Valenzuela (Hector Jimenez, 73'), Josh Williams (Lalas Abubakar, HT), Jonathan Mensah, Harrison Afful, Pedro Santos, Niko Hansen (Edward Opoku, 66'), Gyasi Zardes, Wil Trapp ©, Artur, Patrick Mullins
Referee: Sorin Stoica
Assistant Referees: Richard Gamache, Peter Balciunas
4th Official: Farhad Dadkho
VAR: Tim Ford
Attendance: 16,459
The New York Red Bulls (13-5-2, 41 pts) second-half comeback fell short as they lost to Columbus Crew SC (10-7-6, 36 pts), 3-2, on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls dropped three points at RBA for just the second time in 11 matches this season.

Columbus struck quickly, rattling off three goals in the first 31 minutes of the match to build a three-goal lead in the first half.

New York responded minutes into the second half as Daniel Royer sent a cross into the box, forcing Columbus' Jonathan Mensah to redirect into his own net.

MLS' assist leader Kaku generated New York's second goal as he swung his pass to the far post for Royer, who headed in his sixth of the season to cut the deficit to one, 3-2.

Royer tallied his sixth goal of the season and has tallied a goal in two of the last three matches.

Kaku remained atop the league in assists as he raised his season total to 14. New York's No. 10 has recorded at least one assist in four-straight matches and five of the last seven games.

For the second time in 2018, Kaku has tallied an assist in four consecutive matches, which is tied for the best streak this season and longest active streak.

The Red Bulls are now 49-40-22 all-time in the month of July. New York has scored 182 goals while allowing 166 during the seventh month of the year.

New York remains at Red Bull Arena for a primetime nationally-televised match against LAFC on Sunday, August 5. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. with coverage on FS1, FOX Sports GO and New York Red Bulls Radio in English and Spanish on TuneIn.
New York Red Bulls Media Conference
Saturday, July 28, 2018
Chris Armas
Q. You guys obviously put a valiant effort in the second half, but pretty much gifted them three goals in the first half and they were the better team in the first half. What happened and what went into your decision with the lineup? Seemed to be out of sorts the first half which is what got them off to a good start and you guys in the hole?
CHRIS ARMAS: Yeah, look, we looked closely at Columbus in the last few weeks, and a lot of what we looked at was the last time we played them. Our typical 4-3-2-1, and their system and their style of play challenged us on that day. We thought we got exposed at their place that way.

The second half of that game, if I remember, yeah, it was 5-1-3-1, the exact formation we started with tonight and we had to really put things on our terms at their place in that same structure.

Tonight was opposite. Sometimes, yeah, it's hard to explain it but when you're -- no matter what formation that we're playing in, if we're late to plays, a step late, if we're not up for that part of it, they can just pick you apart.

They are probably the best passing team in the League that way, so we were hoping for them to play out of the back and if we were really good on the day, maybe like the second half, it looks one way.

So in the end, in the run of play, you know, I'm not sure -- yeah, it was four shots they had in the first half, four shots. They had three shots on goal a night. You know, when you start to really look at it, yeah, it doesn't always feel good when the other ball, but possession ended up being 50/50 I think. Depends on which half we're going to really focus on here because the second half we were really good.

Q. Sean Davis, obviously you subbed him out at start of the second half. What did you say to him when he obviously putts the ball into his own net to make it out of reach somewhat? What did you talk to Sean about like around half time?
CHRIS ARMAS: We didn't speak about anything. You know, Sean's been awesome for us. He was in many ways good in the first half. It was a lot for him to do and as that lone six, there's just a lot of work.

So as normal, I congratulate him. He gives everything. He's put in a lot of work this week, Sean Davis, and the year. It just ends up being a big demand for him and a few guys. He performed admirably, and goals like that happen where it skips off your head. That's it. No big deal there.

Q. And also, talk about Derrick, obviously he's very talented, we all know that. It seemed like he kind of struggles a little bit up top. Did you see anything there that once you put Bradley in, you switched things around, a little more withdrawn in the midfield?
CHRIS ARMAS: Yeah, look, Derrick, he's done well and he always gets himself in good spots, even in the first half tonight. It's not easy to play against big, athletic centerbacks and that was a tough test for him and he still put himself in good spots where he looks dangerous. He flirts with line, he runs behind. He put a lot in.

Yeah, Brad comes in and then there's a real push, so there's some different types of looks for Brad. Derrick we think can be effective up high and in wide spots, so we're okay there. We're happy with Derrick.

Q. Obviously the midfield, there was changes in the team. We've seen a couple times in year, Davis playing alone in the center midfield, or in the defensive midfield. Seems like it has not worked a lot of times and Tyler playing out wide, that's a bit of a change for him. Just wanted to get your thoughts moving forward, what you think of the middle field, how do you plan on getting this midfield with a lot of talented players to work moving forward?
CHRIS ARMAS: Yeah, well, we think we're seeing it now. It's not the first time we saw Tyler in that tilted role, where he's not a winger, he's playing tucked in off of Sean's shoulder, and now it's one of the ways we talked about when we played Mark and Sean deep and Tyler in that role where he just helps out.

So yeah, it's always a challenge of how you can get your -- certain players on the field at the same time, but with Tyler, you have a lot of flexibility because he's intelligent. He can close spaces down wherever he is. Yeah, it's a good question but we -- this wasn't anything new for us tonight. Tyler, a little bit tilted.

New York Red Bulls Midfielder Tyler Adams

On fighting back in the second half after conceding three goals in the first…
“Yeah, obviously we had a little wakeup call going into the second half. It’s never ideal to be down three goals and that was very unlike us, you could say. But going into the second half we showed what a good team we are and how we could try to bounce back. Obviously, the complete comeback didn’t come off. We had chances, we definitely could’ve came back, if not win the game. So, there’s no surprise how resilient our team is but it’s a matter of having a better start than that and we can’t have a first half performance like that.”

On Columbus Crew’s strategy…
“It was pretty simple to figure out, in my opinion. I think the whole team figured it out. They played with two strikers, tried to play long and expose our back line. Our back line did excellent in the second half. In the first half we got let down a little bit. It’s a complete team effort. It’s not just on our center backs or any of our defenders. We need to do a little bit better in putting out fires in that sense.”

On how he and the team will bounce back from tonight’s loss…
“We get a couple days off now. Obviously three games in a week is never ideal but we dealt with it pretty well. We got six out of the nine points. We’ll be ready for LAFC now. We know we have a big one this Sunday. So, we’ll be excited for it. They come to our house again and we know we’re good at home. So, we just need to put a better outing than today.”

New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles

On the first half…
“Man, it was brutal. I don’t really have any reasons for it, it’s just we know internally it’s not good enough. We’re not necessarily going to point fingers at anyone or give any excuses, but the standards that we have here are high and that didn’t meet it so at the end of the day it was a big fail by us and we’ll learn from it.”

On falling 3-0 so early…
“It’s possible that fatigue played a factor; it’s possible that we came in a little complacent. I think the most important thing is what we’re going to learn from this situation. We know that ultimately, we can be a good team, but we’re just not at our peak yet and in a way that’s a good thing because there’s so plenty more margin to attain and to continue to improve, and I think that’s going to be the spirit with this locker room is that it does suck that we didn’t get the points tonight, especially at home in front of our fans, but it’s this mentality of not being complacent, improving, learning from our mistakes, and I believe that we’re going to do that. It’s something like that that’s going to be the counter less to us being the sort of team that can compete for a championship.”

On having three on the back, but Columbus still having many chances…
“Yeah, I mean in a way it’s kind of funny because it flips right because when we were in Columbus in the first half, the first 45 minutes, we played four in the back and they were getting all sorts of chances in the side and just breaking us down, and then we go five in the back and we shut them down. So today we start with five in the back and it flips on us and then we go to four, now it’s a little difference because they’re up 3-0 so they’re going to sit back a little bit, but it’s not just one thing right. You can’t just look at the 3-0 and be like “O this is the reason why,” it’s a bunch of things, but I think ultimately because we’re so strong as a group we’re going to see them by one another and know that this is a small hiccup, but it’s going to be how we react to it and how we bounce back, and I feel like we’re going to bounce back very positively.”

Columbus Crew SC Head Coach Gregg Berhalter
Q. Obviously not the finish you guys were looking for but for the group to be able to hang on and close this one out, what does that mean in general?
GREGG BERHALTER: It was important. I think the beginning of the game, the first half of the game, we had to make some adjustments based on how they were playing a different system and I think we adjusted really well. We exploited the space in the empty middle and did a great job of keeping the ball and putting them on their heels.

The second half, as they moved back to their traditional system, the focus was now on switching the field and I think we could have been a little more effective, you see the goals, both of them came on examples of when we could have switched field to break pressure off.

Q. You went with two strikers for maybe the first time you've had these guys here. What was it about that system?
GREGG BERHALTER: So the idea was not to play in the middle of the field, if they are playing their normal 4-3-2-1. The middle, they are so strong, and we just wanted to keep the balls on the side of the field and we thought, if you don't need a person central you might as well play with two strikers and might as well put more pressure on their defense.

As it turns out, think played their 3-3-3-1 system, which left the middle open and we had to make adjustments. So we pulled Harry inside, dropped Pedro inside and pushed our wing backs high to create space centrally.

Q. Obviously Patrick, only his second game with you guys. What do you feel like he gave you with his precision?
GREGG BERHALTER: I thought he was strong, both physically, his movement was good and he held balls up. The character to fight through, not having played 90 minutes in a long time, you know, I thought he was excellent.

Q. The resulting goals haven't been there for you but even though the end wasn't what you wanted, is this something potentially you could build off, getting those three goals on the road?
GREGG BERHALTER: Soccer is funny because we've created more chances than we did tonight and not score, and you're efficient, you score almost every chance you get and you end up winning the game. You know, overall, I think we've never been pressing the guys. Our attitude is, it will come, just keep working.

Q. To get Pedro's confidence up on set pieces, what can that do for this group in general down the stretch?
GREGG BERHALTER: If they start giving the delivery we know they can, they are dangerous. Their set piece service has been excellent all year.

Q. The second half was obviously a little bit different. What did you -- how do you think you handled their changes?
GREGG BERHALTER: So I think, you know, I'm disappointed to give up the goals. Disappointed in the way we gave up the goals. I think there was glimpse of the game plan being perfectly in place, and then there are other moments where we didn't execute and we got punished. You think of the first goal, the idea is to get it back to the throw and switch field. We didn't execute that properly.

Overall, I think it's a lesson learned, but Red Bull played with an extreme intensity in the second half and it made it difficult. They are a good team and they are a good team at home, and that's going to happen in games. Me and Andrew talk about the ebb and flow of games all the time.

Q. Speaking of ebb and flow games, Zack makes a couple saves early, seems to shift the tone in the first half. How important was that to get you guys confidence?
GREGG BERHALTER: I think he played a solid game, a really solid game and then had some good saves and able to steady the team. On set pieces I thought he was pretty good, so pleased with his performance tonight.

Q. What is Josh's status?
GREGG BERHALTER: Going to see what it is, just some ankle pain.

Q. How about Federico, is this one where you could have gone to him if you needed to?
GREGG BERHALTER: Well, we could have except for the fact we ran out of substitutes, so it made it challenging. If we would have had another sub, we could have used him. I think we had intentions of using him and then how the game unfolds, you have to make adjustments.

Q. You guys now have a bye week in this next week after a pretty compact stretch of games. How will you take this next week or so?
GREGG BERHALTER: I think we're going to learn from this game. We're going to give the guys some days off and then we're going to come back and we're going to keep pushing.

Columbus Crew Goalkeeper Zach Steffen.

On What the Win Can Do For Confidence:
“I mean the win last weekend was a huge win for us in the last minute. It gave us a lot of confidence to have a good training week and push this week because we knew Red Bull was going to be tough. Red Bull is always tough, never easy. To get a win like that before a break it really gives us time to free our minds and get our legs back and then come back hungry again and confident.

On Finally Breaking Through on the Road:
“Oh yeah when that happened we were rolling. We just, it was nice to put the ball in the back of the net and let us breathe for a second. And get to the game plan and just keep working. Gave us confidence to keep going and get another one.”

On The Big Save on Aaron Long:
“Yeah I mean if that goes in the game could be completely different. It was a good moment for me and kept our team in the game so it was good.

On Countering the Red Bulls Second Half Momentum:
“Yeah I mean they brought in Kaku who’s really talented and Bradley [Wright-Phillips] who’s just a goal-scorer. So obviously we had to watch out for them. They pressed a little bit differently so we had to vary our build out. I think the guys did well with that and yeah.”

On Heading Into the All-Star Break:
“It will shift tomorrow. It will be fine. These guys get to go on a break and it’s an honor to be an all-star and to go down there and I’m really excited.

Columbus Crew Midfielder Wil Trapp.

On How a Road Win Boosts Confidence:
“it’s important to look at how we battled throughout the game. Up 3-0 I thought we played an excellent first half second half they made some changes, put some quality on the field. We just were slow on a couple of plays. To get the three points was paramount, that’s what we wanted to do. These three eastern conference games that we had (NYC away, Orlando home) to get six out of nine is big for us.

On Building Off a Win:
“yeah I thought we did a very, very good job un the first half of exposing them and taking chances. The difference tonight was we opened them but were clinical for the most part in executing our chances. In some other games we don’t do that. It hangs on and hangs on and then one or two chances for them and the game could. It was good to get Patrick a goal, set piece goals are always important. A little deflating for the opponent to so it was good for us.

On Playing With the Two Strikers:
“Yeah yeah, credit to our coaches for adjusting and for our guys for stepping on the field and making adjustments throughout the game. I thought the first half was dealing with a different formation for them and when they made the change in the second half, we switched right back to how we prepared for the entire week. It’s good to be able to move things around on the field and still execute and still win.”

On Patrick Mullins:
“Yeah, yeah you see his goal scoring ability. Quality in high pressure moments was great. He’s good in the air, he’s strong, he looks to involve his teammates and those all things that will help us a lot.”

Columbus Crew Forward Patrick Mullins

Q. On tonight’s road victory…
“Couldn’t be prouder to be part of this group tonight. I’ll talk about us – we had a lot of challenges coming into tonight. Obviously, it’s a difficult place to play. This is a team that changed up how they looked, how they played from Wednesday against DC. They threw us a bit of a curveball and I thought everyone responded very well. I think, from the staff to the players, embracing a new way of which we were going about – with two fours tonight – and how that changed the way we played. I think the principles stayed the same and it’s something our team should be proud of: to have that flexibility and the team strength to make sure that, when we go to tough places like this, we can figure out a result and different ways to play. To still have that Crew stamp on things, which I think you saw tonight with some great goals and obviously some good heart at the end.”

Q. On the two-striker system and early confidence with Columbus…
“I don’t think it means anything going forward. I think it’s just a good performance tonight. I’ve been in this position before, being on a new team. I’ve really thrown myself into it. I think that’s important when you come to a new place is to assimilate to how things are done here. I do my best to do that, and I think they’ve welcomed me in warmly. So, I need to keep working, and that’ll determine how it goes going forward.”

Q. On his goal tonight…
“It’s a great team goal. From the build-up, to Harry being as versatile as he is, almost becoming a playmaker, and then the movement out to in. Pedro was doing it all night long, causing their back-line fits. He gave me and Gyasi a lot of room to run in behind, and that’s exactly what happened. I finished it off.”

Q. On scoring against the Red Bulls again…
“Every team I’ve been on hasn’t really liked Red Bulls too much. Columbus doesn’t have a rivalry with them per say, but it’s always battles against them. I’m very proud to come here and get a result, get a goal, and contribute to the team which is most important to me.”