New York Red Bulls coach Mike Petke was unhappy with the performance of his side in their 1-0 MLS loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
The defeat continued a poor start to the season for the Red Bulls, who have won just two out of their first eight matches.
A 13th-minute strike from Aurelien Collin was all that separated the two sides at Red Bull Arena, and Petke was quick to praise Sporting KC, who are on top of the Eastern Conference after the victory.
“That is a good team we played,” Petke said.
“Kansas City are a very good team on both ends of the ball.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. I wasn’t happy with the first half, I thought we were a step or two late to every play defensively.
“Second half – I thought that was a good response. We had some tired guys out there and they fought until the end. We had some opportunities to go up. Overall it is an uneasy feeling for me.”
Petke defended his decision to replace Tim Cahill late in the first half with 18-year-old Marius Obekop, claiming the 33-year-old Australian needed to be managed with a long-term view.
“Tim Cahill does so much work for us and he is so invaluable as far as I am concerned,” he said.
“He will never admit it but he does so much work for us the last couple of games and I wanted to get him off and give him a bit of a rest, have him ready for New England.
“Marius is a young kid and he has earned his spot to go on in that situation. Hopefully he can be a spark and get forward and I thought he was okay on his debut.”
Petke was also forced to replace Colombian defender Jamison Olave after 30 minutes when the defender twisted his knee awkwardly, but the coach is hopeful it will not be a long-term issue.
“Olave initial feedback from the trainers is that it is – I don’t want to label it – but it’s not like an MCL or an ACL tear as far as I know,” he said.
“It was just a little twist, to the extent of how bad it is I don’t know yet, I’m going to meet with them right after this.”