HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — New York coach Hans Backe called Saturday’s game against the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps a “must-win.”
Well, Backe’s club didn’t win. But the Red Bulls didn’t lose either — for a league-high 15th time this year, tying a league record.
Reserve forward Juan Agudelo scored a goal off a fine feed from Rafa Marquez in the 68th minute, lifting the Red Bulls to a 1-1 tie with the league’s worst team.
Agudelo entered in the 62nd minute as a substitute and scored his sixth goal of the season, but the Red Bulls, playing down a man after Jan Gunnar Solli was ejected right before halftime, could not get the go-ahead goal and fell to 6-6-15 overall.
It was the eighth straight match without a win for the Red Bulls, going 0-3-5 during that span.
The Red Bulls have 33 points, one ahead of Portland and two ahead of D.C. United for the last playoff spot.
“We’re still in it and that’s a good thing,” Backe said. “It’s unbelievable with all the tied games. I still think we’re good enough to pick up wins. Time is running out (the Red Bulls have seven games remaining) and we need to get wins. It’s frustrating, of course, and not normal. It’s more frustrating that we’re getting injuries and red cards and just can’t get a rhythm going.”
The Whitecaps (4-13-10) remained winless on the road this season, posting an 0-10-5 record.
The Whitecaps scored in the 23rd minute, when Camilo moved down the right side, then passed into the box to Davide Chiumiento, who whirled and did a 180-degree spin to fire a right-footed shot over Bouna Coundoul into the net. It was Chiumiento’s second goal of the season, but he was upset with his team’s performance after getting the lead.
“The second half, we didn’t play with any energy or desire to win the game,” Chiumiento said. “It’s tough. We’re not ready mentally to win on the road. We played a good first half and the second half we drew a blank. We didn’t show enough courage to win the game.”
Solli received a red card from referee Terry Vaughn in extra time in the first half. The ejection of Solli enabled Vancouver to play more conservatively and enabled it to keep the action away from the Red Bulls for most of the second half.
The Red Bulls drew even when Marquez lifted a 50-yard crossing pass right to the foot of Agudelo, who slid the ball past a stunned Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon for the game-tying goal. It was the teenager’s sixth goal of the season.
“I was very happy to see him make a difference,” Backe said. “He played with passion and was physically strong. It’s great to see him perform like that and he’s a player we have to see if he can start in the future.”
The Red Bulls had two golden chances to take the lead in the 78th minute, when Agudelo’s header was stopped by Gannon and Dane Richards’ rebound shot was fired hard into Gannon’s midsection.
“I never had a team like this with so many ties,” veteran defender Carlos Mendes said. “It’s very difficult to keep getting ties. We need to fix it quick.”
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.)