(Photo courtesy Red Bulls)
The New York Red Bulls’ MLS Cup dreams ended earlier than expected when they were eliminated from the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact on Sunday night at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls lose the Eastern Conference Semifinal series 3-1 on aggregate.
Ignacio Piatti scored for the Impact in the 51st minute to increase the aggregate lead to 2-0 and give the Impact the all-important away goal. Piatti would get a second late in the game to seal the win.
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored for New York in the 77th minute to tie the match at one, and pull New York within one on aggregate. It was the seventh career postseason goal for Bradley Wright-Phillips, adding to his franchise record.Daniel Royer and Damien Perrinelle earned assists on the play.
Piatti scored a second goal in the 85th minute to finish off the Red Bulls, giving Montreal its second away goal.
The loss was the first at home for the Red Bulls since April 9 against Sporting Kansas City. New York posted a franchise-record 13-2-2 mark at Red Bull Arena this season.
Since the start of 2012, New York has the most regular season home wins (57) and points (187) in MLS.
It was the first time New York has lost to Montreal at home in MLS competition (6-1-0).
Outside of the 1-6-0 start to the season, it was the first time New York has dropped back-to-back games. The loss to Montreal marked only the sixth home loss, including regular season and playoffs, for the Red Bulls under Jesse Marsch (27-6-4).
The MetroStars/Red Bulls franchise drops to 15-24-8 in the playoffs all-time. This was the Red Bulls’ second postseason game against the Impact and first post-season series.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of the game, “I felt like we dominated every single statistical category. It’s a weird sport that way, where I don’t know how many other sports there are where you can dominate so much and not be victorious, but that’s what our sport is.
“Both games were under control, I thought. Obviously once it gets to be 1-0 here at home and now your aggregate is two and you’re chasing the game with the road goal, then that whole thing goes haywire. But yeah, I felt good about our tactics. I felt good about our approach, and we just weren’t good enough in the series to capitalize on our advantages, and we let — if I go through the whole series and think of how many good chances we gave up until it became 2-0, there’s certainly not many.
“It’s very disappointing. I’ll tell you, I’m gutted for my team, my staff, my organization and my fan base, because everybody has poured their hearts into this. You know, I feel a big sense of disappointment in our inability to win the Cup, period. We feel like we’ve had two great seasons here, but in the end, we’re walking away empty-handed. It’s a hard feeling to swallow.”
Coming into the series, the Red Bulls had been unbeaten in 20 straight matches. Marsch said of what changed, and what they didn’t do the same, “I don’t know. I don’t know. We dried up. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. We had the game under control. Again, every statistical category was in our favor. Listen, they fouled us like crazy in this series, which makes it hard to find a rhythm, I guess, but I don’t know why. I don’t know why.”
The Red Bulls’ style of high press in general in playoffs is going to be questioned, and Marsch said of that, “No, we won’t reexamine that at all. In fact, both games were on our terms, and if we’re sharp around the goal and finish chances in both games, this series honestly could have been handled fairly easily, and it wasn’t. It wasn’t. We just weren’t able to capitalize on situations.
“No. I mean, listen, this is who we are. This is what this club is now. I don’t think there’s — it’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than anybody. It’s not like I’m — right now everything that’s been built in this club in the last two years I think has laid a foundation for great success moving forward. You know, the ultimate reward is MLS Cup, and we haven’t — for whatever reason, this club has struggled to get over that hump, and that part is disappointing.
“But we all know we’re on the right path. That’s for sure.”