After one hundred and eighty minutes against New England without a goal, the New York Red Bulls find themselves in a familiar spot; without an MLS Cup. For the fifth straight year, New York was eliminated in the first round of the MLS playoffs, this time by New England, 1-0 on aggregate. As each NY team is different, each annual playoff failure illustrates a slightly different deficiency on New York's part.
This year's theme was lack of depth, as a concussion suffered by New York's star forward Juan Pablo Angel in the 57th minute led to a goal against the run of play for New England. Without Angel, or the injured Claudio Reyna (who left the game in the first half), a win just couldn't be conjured up at Gillette Stadium, where New York hasn't won in five years of trying.
Predictably, in true New York fashion, the club fired "sporting director" Bruce Arena today for his failure to move the club closer to a title. New York Sun soccer columnist and renowned crank Paul Gardner noted last week that Arena seemed to hate his job, to be almost disdaining the work he'd put in at RBNY. Well, now Arena won't have to worry about the plastic pitch at Giants Stadium for the next, and possibly more seasons.
The fans, however, must expect another high-profile "name" coach to come in, take at least half a season to "become acclimated" with MLS, and generally underperform. Such is life as a Red Bulls fan, where we're used to the cycle: Lather. Fail. Repeat.
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