Despite Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe's expectation of "more than just a friendly" against the NASL's Montreal Impact, New York failed to finish off the Canadian side in a 1-0 loss at Montreal's Saputo Stadium on Wednesday.
The RBNY regulars likely left their scoring touch at home as the starters missed multiple scoring opportunities in the first half. Dwayne De Rosario hit the right goal post in the 25th minute after picking up a loose ball in the penalty area. Thierry Henry saw a goal rescinded 10 minutes later after the sideline official called the French striker offsides.
Shortly after Henry's miss, Canadian forward Ali Gerba headed a cross from the right flank by Impact defender Philippe Billy past Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton for the game's only goal.
New York made eight substitutions at halftime compared to Montreal's five, with neither set of changes providing a scoring spark in the second half.
The Gold Cup Runneth Over. Next month's CONCACAF Gold Cup competition could call as many as seven regular Red Bulls into international duty, including De Rosario and Sutton (Canada), Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Dane Richards (Jamaica), Roy Miller (Costa Rica), and Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo (USA). The match against Montreal will not factor into any standings or stats, but the experience accumulated by the reserves on Wednesday could help Backe uncover the players that will keep the Red Bulls afloat while the regulars are away.
Agudelo Hype Machine: Three Agudelos (Out of Five). Juan Agudelo played the full 90 minutes Wednesday night, giving Luke Rodgers the night off. He also offered up New York's best scoring chance of the night with a strong second-half shot that rattled Montreal 'keeper Evan Bush barely managed to block. He will remain the club's super sub when they return to MLS regular season action next week, but the teenage phenom can only benefit from a full game's worth of action.
'Keeper Conundrum. With Bouna Coundoul receiving a much needed night off, Sutton made the most of his chance to re-enter the Red Bulls' goalkeeper conversation. The Canadian goalie showed no ill effects from the concussion that sidelined him in March and regularly stepped up to make big saves against the Impact -- especially in the second half after Backe subbed out the majority of the starters. The job is still Coundoul's to lose at this point, but Sutton shed concerns about his readiness to step up if necessary.
The Red Bulls will now head back home and prepare for their next MLS regular season match against Chivas USA at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. First kick is scheduled for 7 p.m.