HARRISON, N.J. -- As a rookie head coach, Mike Petke realized the learning curve could be long this season.
Saturday, he was given a stiff lesson that even when you dominate a game from the opening kickoff to the final whistle, you don't always walk away with three points.
The Red Bulls did everything but score in a frustrating scoreless draw with D.C. United at Red Bull Arena. They outshot the visitors, 24-4, twice hit the crossbar and ensured United goalkeeper Bill Hamid earned his paycheck with eight saves.
The result left the Red Bulls (0-1-2, two points) winless and the Bohemia native still searching for his first victory and feeling frustrated.
Petke said the Red Bulls "deserved to win."
"Obviously, I am not happy with the result, but it's one of those moments that this coaching staff came back in and said, 'Alright, forget about the result for one second and tell me if you liked what you saw.' And we liked what we saw," he said.
There was plenty to like in the game that was played in snow flurries.
Captain Thierry Henry led the Red Bulls' attack with 10 shots, five that were denied by Hamid, twice on sprawling saves in the eighth and 19th minutes. Before the media had an opportunity to ask him about his close encounters and his personal frustrations, the former Arsenal star had left the Red Bulls locker room.
Striker Fabian Espindola came the closest for the Red Bulls, hitting the crossbar in the 24th and 56th minutes.
"He was incredibly unlucky on two or three chances today," midfielder Dax McCarty said. "You just have to feel for him because he and Thierry could have had two or three goals."
The Red Bulls had a good chance to score a minute into stoppage time when defender Brandon Barklage headed Juninho's corner kick toward the net. It deflected off D.C. defender James Riley and Hamid had to be alert and quick to swat it away.
Petke was forced to make perhaps his most difficult decision of his young coaching career, deciding not play left back Roy Miller. Miller was involved in two controversial plays in the waning minutes of the 2-1 loss at San Jose Sunday. Miller was called for a handball that led to a penalty kick. That kick was saved, but he was called for encroachment, allowing the Earthquakes to retake the saved penalty and convert the game-winner.
Miller, who was supposed to join his Costa Rican teammates for World Cup qualifying today, did not play and was was allowed to leave yesterday.
"Roy Miller had an unfortunate game in San Jose," Petke said. "He was very upset about a lot of things, but he's a team player. I just thought it would be unfair for me to put him out, even in the 18, with the reaction that has happened from all the supporters, from the media. So he agreed and wanted to go home, spend some time with his family for an extra day, clear his mind and figure things out."
Just another part of the learning curve.