For the third consecutive game, the Wizards put themselves in a hole early by allowing a soft goal.
Now, shooting yourself in the foot is a bad idea against any team. But in a must-win game against a star-studded team like the New York Red Bulls? Well, that’s like taking a sledgehammer to your foot, “Kathy Bates in ‘Misery’”-style.
So with that said, yes, it’s probably not a surprise the Wizards wound up losing 1-0 at New York’s Red Bull Arena.
“It put us behind the eight-ball,” Wizards coach Peter Vermes. “We were chasing the game.”
With the loss, the Wizards — who entered the game trailing San Jose for the final playoff position by six points — saw their playoff hopes take a drastic hit.
However, you can’t say the Wizards, 9-11-6, didn’t try. Far from it. In fact, after surrendering a goal in the fourth minute, they went on to accumulate 26 shots (12 were on goal) only to be turned away each time by goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul, who picked up his ninth clean sheet of the year for New York, 14-8-5.
“We were on them, and they know they were lucky to get away with a point,” Vermes said. “We came out and put it on them. I just hate the face we didn’t get a result out of this.”
And the big reason, Vermes said, was Coundoul.
“He played out of his mind,” Vermes said. “He was the difference in the game.”
And New York took the lead early, as Red Bulls midfielder Dane Richards dispossessed defender Jimmy Conrad off a free kick near the Wizards’ goal in the sixth minute and beat goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to the back post.
Vermes said it appeared Richards may have clipped Conrad, but no call was made.
“Some have said it was a foul, some have said it wasn’t,” Vermes said.
Regardless, the Wizards were working from behind once again. They twice overcame a two-goal deficit in a 4-3 victory over Houston on Sept. 22, but saw their hopes sink against FC Dallas in a 3-1 loss Sept. 25 when they allowed two goals in the first 12 minutes.
But just like those games, the Wizards did their best to fight back against New York as they racked up plenty of good scoring chances the rest of the game. Consider the following:
•In the 26th minute, Conrad put a header wide from point-blank range off a free kick.
•In the 27th minute, forward Kei Kamara put a shot on goal from distance that was saved by Coundoul.
•In the 37th minute, forward Teal Bunbury put another shot on goal from distance that was saved by Coundoul.
That was just in the first half. By halftime, the Wizards had put seven of their 14 shots on frame but still had nothing to show for it. And Coundoul continued his remarkable play in the second half, when he made five more saves — some of the extraordinary variety — as he clinched the victory for the Red Bulls, who also locked up a playoff spot.