The New York Red Bulls opened the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs with a 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Sunday. They had several chances to score, but were unable to convert any of their opportunities. The Red Bulls now need at least two goals in the home leg on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite the loss, the team is staying optimistic about their performance.
"It was basically one play that cost us even though we had what I thought was a good control of the match," manager Jesse Marsch said. "Even though we had some really good advantages, we couldn't convert any of them."
The Red Bulls managed nine shots, coming close to scoring several times. In the second half, Felipe almost leveled the match, but his free kick rebounded off the crossbar.
"I think we were a bit unlucky," the Brazilian midfielder said after the match. "We could have finished at least one goal, but we didn't. Now we have to work very hard during the week to make sure next game we can score two goals."
The Red Bulls had a massive edge in possession, 63 percent to 37 percent, but were unable to take advantage of it. Montreal stayed compact, using Marco Donadel, Patrice Bernier, and Hernan Bernardello to harass and block the midfield. As pointed out by Fox Soccer, the Impact shut down Sacha Kljestan and prevented him from playing through balls to Bradley Wright-Phillips. The Red Bulls were forced to generate attacks from the wings, but Alex Muyl and Mike Grella couldn't create enough high percentage chances.
Next Sunday's match should see more of the same from both sides. The Red Bulls will continue to play a high press with likely the same lineup. Montreal will bunker and counter, which will become a more effective strategy the longer the match stays scoreless.
The Impact has the lead and scoring a crucial away goal will all but hand them the series. The margin for error in the playoffs is very small, so the Red Bulls must not squander their chances in the second leg. They have a week of training to refocus and recalibrate in order to avoid elimination.
"We had a lot of confidence coming into this game," goalkeeper Luis Robles said. "Now we have to turn our attention to going home where we've done very well this year. Continue to believe in what we're doing here and have confidence in one another."