PENALTY ROBS RED BULLS OF FIRST WIN

It was the main talking point from the Red Bulls’ 1-1 draw last Saturday — the 71st-minute penalty awarded to Colorado by referee Alan Kelly that set up Colorado’s equalizer.

With New York up 1-0 and looking to close out the game, Colorado’s Marvin Chavez slammed into the burly chest of Jamison Olave and tumbled to the ground dramatically inside the penalty box. Kelly gave away the spot kick — despite Chavez looking as if he embellished the foul — to the chagrin of the home fans and to the ire of Red Bulls’ players.

“I told the ref that Olave held his ground,” Red Bulls goalie Luis Robles told MSG’s Tina Cervasio after the game. “You can’t expect a defender not to be able to stand their ground. I thought that [Chavez] went down pretty easily and it was an unfair call. But at the end of the day, if I was on the other side, I’d want the call, too.”

While the Red Bulls had legitimate gripes for the penalty being awarded, it wasn’t the only reason they dropped points against the Rapids. Outside of the first 20 minutes of the game and Thierry Henry’s goal in the 57th minute, New York’s attacking play lacked guile and seemed labored going forward. The Red Bulls were outshot 18-11 by the Rapids and had just two shots on goal. New York resorted to “route one” soccer as head coach Mike Petke called it, launching long balls up the field instead of relying on the intricate play that was the team’s calling card last year.

“We had a lack of creativity [Saturday],” Petke told Cervasio after the game. “ … We have to work on sustaining our attacks. The first 20 minutes we were good and all of a sudden we were kind of deflated. We have to figure out a way how to sustain that or alternate ways if we can’t sustain it.”

The good news for the Red Bulls was that their defensive play was improved from their nightmarish season opener in Vancouver. Although he gave away the penalty, Olave brought his calming presence back to the back four, something that it sorely needed.

“Having Olave back was huge for us because he’s such a good organizer for us,” Robles said. “He’s such a presence for us. Balls over the top, he’s able to track down. It was nice for us to have the big guy back.”

A Look Ahead: at Chicago Fire

Sunday’s Red Bulls match sees them head to a place that has been a house of horrors for them.

While the Red Bulls had legitimate gripes for the penalty being awarded, it wasn’t the only reason they dropped points against the Rapids. Outside of the first 20 minutes of the game and Thierry Henry’s goal in the 57th minute, New York’s attacking play lacked guile and seemed labored going forward. The Red Bulls were outshot 18-11 by the Rapids and had just two shots on goal. New York resorted to “route one” soccer as head coach Mike Petke called it, launching long balls up the field instead of relying on the intricate play that was the team’s calling card last year.

“We had a lack of creativity [Saturday],” Petke told Cervasio after the game. “ … We have to work on sustaining our attacks. The first 20 minutes we were good and all of a sudden we were kind of deflated. We have to figure out a way how to sustain that or alternate ways if we can’t sustain it.”

The good news for the Red Bulls was that their defensive play was improved from their nightmarish season opener in Vancouver. Although he gave away the penalty, Olave brought his calming presence back to the back four, something that it sorely needed.

“Having Olave back was huge for us because he’s such a good organizer for us,” Robles said. “He’s such a presence for us. Balls over the top, he’s able to track down. It was nice for us to have the big guy back.”

A Look Ahead: at Chicago Fire

Sunday’s Red Bulls match sees them head to a place that has been a house of horrors for them. New York has never won at Toyota Park, and, with 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee expected to make his season debut, the task ahead of the Red Bulls looks to be extremely daunting.

Magee made an immediate impact on the Fire’s fortunes after a midseason trade from the LA Galaxy last season, scoring 15 goals for Chicago in just 22 games, to nearly lead the Fire to a postseason berth.

The Fire sports the same record as the Red Bulls (0-1-1) and drew 1-1 with the Portland Timbers in their last outing last Saturday. Like the Red Bulls, Chicago surrendered a late equalizer and had to settle for the point.

Petke is still searching for his preferred starting 11 and he may tinker with the lineup after setting up in a flat 4-4-2 with Tim Cahill in midfield and Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips up front against Colorado. Looking for more goals, Petke may revert back to Cahill and Henry as his forwards, something that was used to great effect last season.