A disaster start put New York down by three goals within 21 minutes and a late rally could only produce a consolation against the visiting Real Salt Lake.
In the seventh minute RSL took the lead. Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio won the jostling match with New York’s considerably smaller Teemu Tainio to gain position and head Andy William's corner kick past Frank Rost.
Just four minutes later, clumsy and careless possession at the back cost the Red Bulls a goal. Tim Ream attempted to pass to keeper Frank Rost under pressure, but instead scuffed his kick. Espindola gathered, calmly rounded Rost and finished.
Real’s final goal of the first half, completing Espindola’s brace, came in the 21st minute. Collen Warner played a nice combination with Alvaro Saborio, then one touched an incisive pass that split the Red Bulls defense. Espindola latched onto the through-ball and flicked past the helpless Rost.
"If you make mistakes at the back, with our strikers we are going to punish you," RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando said.
The Red Bulls performed better in the second half, dominating possession. They managed to snag a consolation goal in the 69th minute from a Hollywood overhead kick by Joel Lindpere. But New York never looked dangerous enough to trouble RSL, and the halftime whistle might as well have been full time.
"I'm disappointed with the individual mistakes we made," Hans Backe said. He seemed more content to praise the brighter second half than face criticism with the crucial loss.
But as Red Bulls keeper Frank Rost said: "We need to play 90 minutes, not just 45."