NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, November 29, 2015, 10:06 PM
Red Bulls forward Felipe slides for the ball in the Red Bulls 1-0 win Sunday, but the team loses the series on aggregate goals.
Reaching the MLS Cup Final, Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty said, was the standard to which a successful season for his team would be determined.
By that measure, their season is a failure.
The Red Bulls outperformed most people’s expectations in the wake of a regime change by capturing their second Supporters’ Shield in three years, but their 20th season ended just like their first 19: Without a championship.
Columbus’ 2-0 advantage from the first leg of the two-game, aggregate-goal Eastern Conference final proved too much to overcome as the Red Bulls were eliminated Sunday in the second leg at Red Bull Arena despite winning the game 1-0, losing the series 2-1. Columbus will host Portland next Sunday in the championship game.
Anatole Abang scored in the 93rd minute in stoppage time, and Bradley Wright-Phillips’ header in the dying embers of the game hit off the right post but was cleared away.
New York showed more punch and desperation in the second half after only registering one shot in the first half, during which the Red Bulls were aggressive but lacked creativity and left themselves exposed on the back line. An all out attack did not yield the multiple goals they needed, however, let alone one.
Luis Robles, named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, made several difficult saves during the first 45 minutes to keep his team afloat. Less than two minutes into the game, Robles charged and made a sliding save on Ethan Finley’s shot which would’ve been an early dagger. Just one Crew goal would’ve given it the away-goals tiebreaker, meaning the Red Bulls would’ve needed a minimum of four goals to advance.
In the 38th minute, Robles made a diving save with his right hand to keep a Kei Kamara shot out of goal.
Scoring chances were more frequent for the Red Bulls in the second half as they sought a goal at any cost, but they didn’t have the finishing touch. Sacha Kljestan tried to bend a ball in from the left side of the 18-yard box in the 54th minute, but the shot went well high and wide, prompting Kljestan to throw his hands up in the air in disgust.
Lloyd Sam also had a chance to bend a shot far post in the 72nd, cutting in from the left side of the box onto his right foot with a clear shooting lane, but his shot was also well off target.
Immediately after that miss, coach Jesse Marsch subbed in forward Abang for left back Kemar Lawrence, leaving the Red Bulls with just three defenders. The push continued, pressure on the Crew persisted, but only one ball would cross the line when the Red Bulls needed at least two.
And so another season ends in disappointment. The Red Bulls were left to rue giving up a goal nine seconds into the first leg in Columbus off the opening kickoff, and allowing another in the final minutes which created the disadvantage that they couldn’t overcome.