Categorized | Also Noted

Options galore for Osorio

Posted on 17 April 2009 by ASN Staff

Suddenly, Juan Carlos Osorio has options. With Alfredo Pacheco finally receiving his ITC card and Albert Celades fully match fit, Osorio finally has (with one exception; Carlos Johnson who received a red card in Houston) his full suite of new players available to start in the team’s game against Real Salt Lake at Giants Stadium on Saturday night.

Unfortunately, the team is still glaringly thin in attack, which just so happens to be where it is most desperate for help. Through four games the Red Bulls have one (1) goal to their credit, which wasn’t even scored by a member of the team (New England’s Jay Heaps put it in his own net in the season opener at the Swamp). Wing play is another shortcoming, where the absence of last year’s best player Dave van den Bergh (now with FC Dallas) looms large. Van den Bergh’s understudy last year, Danleigh Borman, was shifted to left back while the team waited for Pacheco. New signings Khano Smith and Jeremy Hall, who can play the position, were either not given a chance to do so (Hall) or have proven completely ineffective (Smith).

On the right flank, the most intriguing option may be Matthew Mbuta, another player Osorio does not seem enamored with (judging by the amount of times he’s played him this year: zero). Mbuta, signed from USL-1 side Crystal Palace Baltimore last season, has speed and technical ability and showed in a game last year that he can effectively create chances for the team’s forwards.

Still, Celades and Pacheco should shore up the team’s defensive midfield and back line, respectively. With his 10-game suspension served, goalkeeper Jon Conway is eligible to return to the pitch. Expect him to get the start–and further stabilize a weak defense. Kevin Goldthwaite and Carlos Mendes are both listed as questionable. If they can’t go, Mike Petke and Andrew Boyens could start. Actually they could both start anyway and maybe not even in defense. That’s the thing with Osorio; you simply never know where or how somebody will show up in the starting lineup. Or, for that matter, what the formation will be.

Another injury is Macouba Kandji’s right ankle sprain, picked up in the early stages of the Chicago match. The lanky forward is also listed as questionable. His status, more than anything, will foretell the team’s chances of finally getting off the schneid offensively. Without an effective strike partner, Juan Pablo Angel can be neutralized. And without Kandji, the Red Bulls simply do not have any other realistic options. Dane Richards, so impressive during last season’s playoff run, appears limited and uninspired in four games this year. Dominic Oduro offers little. That leaves John Wolyniec as maybe the best bet. Will Woly get the start? Nobody knows, probably not even Osorio.

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