After opening the new MLS season with a point against the Portland Timbers in the Rose City, Red Bull New York will make another cross-country trip to take on the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on Sunday.
New York found itself in a favorable position by halftime of its opener, capitalizing on a couple of defensive blunders to hold a 3-1 lead over the Timbers. But Portland emerged for the restart with a renewed vigor that, when paired with a subdued second-half performance from the Red Bulls, saw the two sides split the points in 3-3 draw at Jeld-Wen Field.
It marked the coaching debut of Mike Petke, who appeared to be happy with the road draw despite letting two points slip away.
"We let an opportunity slip away from us," Petke said after the match. "If you would have asked us a week ago, 10 days ago, if we would like to take a point on the road of the opening game in an environment like this and a good team like this maybe you say yes, maybe you make a deal with the devil and you say yes, but at the end of the day you're on the road. But possibly we let two (points) slip away."
Petke showed a maturity beyond his lacking experience by taking ownership for New York's tame second period in Portland.
"I just think that we possibly came out with the mindset that we should save the lead instead of keep doing what we were doing in the first half," he added. "That falls on the coaching staff first and foremost. Maybe we should have made it clearer.
"At the end of the day they battled, and there are guys in that locker room that are crushed right now. To see that type of attitude and that sort of letdown after scoring three goals on the road and getting a point on the road, which in MLS is very difficult to do, it's great to see them pissed off."
If Petke will attempt to turn New York's opener into a motivation tactic, then the Red Bulls could be in for a tough follow-up encounter if his counterpart in Frank Yallop does the same.
The 'Quakes, last season's winners of the MLS Supporters' Shield, fell to Real Salt Lake in a 2-0 loss at Buck Shaw behind Alvaro Saborio's brace.
It was a slightly misleading scoreline given the manner in which San Jose attacked. The home side could have been three or four goals up by halftime but failed to convert any of its chances.
"If you look at general play, I thought we played pretty well," said Yallop. "We had enough chances in the first half to be up a couple of goals. That's the sport though. You have to punish the other team when you get chances and we didn't do that."
San Jose, led by two-time MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski, will look to be more clinical in front of net on Sunday, something that does not bode well for a Red Bulls team that already has leaked three goals in just 90 minutes of play this season.