July 2011: Red Bulls can't buy success

On paper, the New York Red Bulls are arguably the best team in Major League Soccer. On the field, the results say something else. With a payroll of more than a league-high $12 million, the Red Bulls have become the league's most disappointing team. They have drawn (12) more than half their games (23) and have won only six matches, while losing five. They are in third place in the Eastern Conference. But all that money has not been able to buy wins or points.

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Sanna Nyassi of the Colorado Rapids scored a hat-trick against goalkeeper Frank Rost during the 4-1 win over the New York Red Bulls. (Photo: GettyImages)


They were embarrassed by the MLS Cup champions Colorado Rapids, 4-1, on Wednesday. Gambian striker Sanna Nyassi recorded his first career hat-trick and Wells Thompson added a goal, his second in four days Jamaican international striker Omar Cummings set up three goals.

Returning home to Red Bull Arena, the Red Bulls went on a roller-coaster ride of a game against FC Dallas in 100-degree F temperatures on Saturday night.

They grabbed the lead on 18-year-old Juan Agudelo's goal. They lost it on Honduran striker Marvin Chavez's second-half brace before former French international Thierry Henry scored an 85th-minute equalizer despite the Red Bulls playing a man down thanks to Jamaican international midfielder Dane Richards' red card.

"It was a great relief because losing after the game against Colorado would have been devastating," Henry said. "Everybody was like, 'It's hot, 2-1 down, against a great side. and how are we going to come back?" Henry added. "Sometimes you have to try to find a way to come back. We didn't have a great second half, but somehow we did come back. We have to be more consistent."

Despite having the likes of Mexican international captain and central defender Rafa Marquez, Estonian National Team midfielder Joel Lindpere, and Henry, among others, the Red Bulls continue to struggle. Even though the regular season won't be completed for three months – at the end of October -- if the Red Bulls don't get their act together they could miss the playoffs. Ten teams from the 18-club league qualify for the post-season tournament.

“We are definitely aware of the situation," right fullback Jan Gunnar Solli said. "Everybody was like, 'We really need three points tonight,' but when we couldn’t do it, it’s like at least [we got] one point. But of course, we know it’s been too many tie games and that is not something we are happy about. We need to win games or else the playoffs are slipping away from us.

The Red Bulls will have two weeks to get their act together in league competition. They will perform next week at the Emirates Cup in London, England. They play Paris Saint-Germain (France) on Saturday, July 30 and Arsenal (England) on Sunday, July 31. Boca Juniors (Argentina) is the fourth team in the competition.

Mutiple goal scorers reign supreme 

It was a big week for hat-tricks. Besides Nyassi's fine performance, Chivas USA's Justin Braun converted his second three-goal match of the season in a 3-0 hone win over the Houston Dynamo. Braun's first three-goal game was against the Red Bulls.

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Justin Braun of Chivas USA achieved all three goals for the 3-0 home win over Houston Dynamo. Here the no. 17 scores his second against goalkeeper Tally Hal. (Photo: GettyImages)


It also was a big week for braces.

Sporting Kansas City pulled off a rarity in its 4-2 win over FC Toronto - a double brace. Kei scored both his goals in the first half and Mexican forward Omar Bravo had a goal in each half. Dutchman Danny Koevermans and Jamaica international Ryan Johnson tallied for Toronto. Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio also scored twice for Real Salt Lake in its 4-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. Kyle Beckerman and Jamison Olave also scored for the hosts.

The final score said San Jose Earthquakes 2, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, but it could have said Chris Wondolowski 2, Eric Hassili 2 as both players scored for their respective teams. Hassili, a Frenchman, connected for the equalizer in the 61st minute.

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Torsten Frings in the Toronto FC shirt. The former Bremen player lost his first matches with the Canadians to Dallas 1-0 and Kansas 4-2. (Photo: GettyImages)

Brek Shea's ninth goal of the season was good enough for Dallas in a 1-0 win over FC Toronto on Wednesday. Toronto

The Columbus Crew wound up on opposite ends of 1-0 results. In its mid-week match, the Crew fell to the Los Angeles Galaxy on defender Sean Franklin's goal. Columbus rebounded as Eddie Gaven found the back of the net against the Portland Timbers on Saturday.

The New England Revolution, which had endured a long season, finally had something to smile about. On Wednesday, the Revs edged D.C. United on Stephen McCarthy's goal. On Saturday, Grenada international midfielder converted a penalty kick in the 90th minute to allow New England to escape with a 2-2 draw at the Rapids. Benny Feilhaber gave New England the lead, but Colorado came back behind Caleb Folan and Kosuke Kimura.