Tim Cahill (white jersey) started his first game for the New York Red Bulls on July 4, 2014, against the Houston Dynamo, since returning from the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where he represented Australia. (Photo: Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images)
EAST HANOVER, New Jersey -- Say this about the New York Red Bulls: they are consistent.
In fact, they have become consistent in such a way that vexes head coach Mike Petke.
The 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) qualifier continues to start MLS games slowly and accumulate draws. On Friday, a 2-2 tie at the Houston Dynamo saw its record move to 4-8-5 and 20 points.
While Petke acknowledged his team took time to get in gear, he didn't point a finger at the players for losing a late lead.
After defender Chris Duvall was whistled for a handball, United States international Brad Davis converted the ensuing penalty kick in the 82nd minute to ensure a share of the points at BBVA Compass Stadium.
"I feel that we lost two points tonight to be honest with you," Petke said. "It wasn’t a handball from what I saw.”
Australia midfielder Tim Cahill, who started his first game with the Red Bulls since returning from the World Cup in Brazil, agreed.
"If it wasn’t a penalty then it’s very harsh for us," he commented. "It’s a bit hard to take."
In some respects, the game was a microcosm of the season. The Red Bulls started out gradually, gave up an early goal, woke up, battled back, played well and wound up settling for a draw.
"There’s no doubt as a team we have character, but we don’t need to be getting in those type of positions," striker Bradley Wright-Phillips said. "We have to realize how important three points are."
Wright-Phillips continued his stellar play, striking for two more goals to give him a league-leading 14.
"Without him, who knows where we’d be," Petke noted, "but we need other guys to step up. We need our defense, we need our midfield, we need everyone around to step up."
The Red Bulls will host El Salvador’s FAS in their CONCACAF Champions League opener on August 26 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.