The New York Red Bulls are out of the MLS Cup playoffs after losing 1-2 to FC Cincinnati on Saturday at Red Bull Arena.
Despite getting the early lead with a stunning strike by Lewis Morgan, a penalty by Lucho Acosta and late goal by Brandon Vazquez eventually eliminated the New York side from contention.
As the team heads into the offseason, head coach Gerhard Struber admitted the Red Bulls will use the loss as an opportunity to grow.
"It's a big learning moment, a moment to grow, it's a big hit in the face. We can see that we cannot always hold our level," Struber said.
"Some players cannot always realize on this level, what this game needs a performance, what helps us be champion in the next round. This is a reality. But we have a big roster of players, and they have a big chance for development. I understand that [our supporters] have a different expectation, especially when you wait so long time for a trophy.
“On the same time, we have to realize which resources and with which players we go in the season. At the moment, with our group, what we have at the moment, we are not ready to win this game. This is the reality.”
But Struber insisted there is still hope for the future.
"I have big trust in this group of players that they can make the big next step in the next season. They are together, more time to grow together. The teamwork, the spirit, the energy. Hopefully the club can hold the group together... then you can speak maybe with a little bit more reality about the trophy."
The team has never won the MLS Cup, coming close in 2008 when reaching the final before losing to the Columbus Crew. The Red Bulls have lifted the Supporters’ Shield, however, one three occasions, most recently in 2018.
Despite a convincing 2022 regular season performance, concluding in fourth on the Eastern Conference table with 53 points in 34 games, the pressure of the playoffs proved too much.