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Episode 17: RBNY midfielder Jeremy Hall

Posted on 05 July 2010 by ASN Staff

Seeing Red! The New York Soccer Roundup

With ASN’s representative just returning from World Cup duty (for the last segment of the show), Mark and Dave welcome New York Red Bulls defender/midfielder Jeremy Hall for a candid session. Must listen. Check it out!

Seeing Red! is a collaboration of ASN’s Nathaniel E. Baker, Mark Fishkin of TheKinOfFish and Dave Martinez of RedBulls.TheOffside. For more information visit SeeingRedNY.com.

You can now subscribe to the show on itunes as well.

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Player ratings: RBNY 2, Houston Dynamo 1

Posted on 03 June 2010 by ASN Staff

The Red Bulls pulled off quite the dramatic win last night. After missing several opportunities to seal the game, and nearly letting their dominance of the Dynamo slip through the cracks on Brian Ching’s game tying goal, they were able to regroup and find a way to their sixth win of the season on the leg of their team Captain, Juan Pablo Angel. Click here for the initial match report). But the fact is, the game could have been sealed and delivered long before that strike found its way to the back of the net. And a closer look at the individuals involved brings that to light.

Here are last night’s player ratings:

BOUNA COUNDOUL: 7.5

Bouna wasn’t forced to make any dramatic saves. Even so, he was solid in the air, using his hands to secure and deflect dangerous crosses throughout the match. His positioning was some of the best the team has seen of him this season, and he provided a steady basis for the defenders to work off of.

CHRIS ALBRIGHT: 8

Playing his first 90 minutes all season, Albright immediately showed his worth on the right side. He played a solid game, subduing Houston’s biggest threats in Brad Davis and Brian Mullan throughout the night. His greatest contribution? An alert strike back in the box from a deflected set piece that found the leg of Sinisa Ubiparipovic for the games first strike.

MIKE PETKE: 7

Petke did a fantastic job of shadowing Brian Ching throughout the game, but was nowhere to be found on the forwards lone goal. It can be argued that the big Hawaiin was offsides, but leaving a man of his repertoire unmarked is a recipe for disaster. Still, Petke helped shut down the forwards with his physical play, and was an enforcer when Angel was brutally tackled and retaliation was needed. Unfortunately, that retaliation lead to yet another yellow for Petke, causing an immediate expulsion for the Chivas game (hence the lower rating).

TIM REAM: 7

Ream played the finesse role to Petke’s tough man act. He was calm and confident on the ball, which has become his MO throughout his young career, and was excellent in setting up the first pass in the build up to counter attacks. But, as with Petke, he was nowhere to be found on that Brian Ching goal, and that is what cost him.

DANLEIGH BORMAN: 7

Borman continues to impress with a new found patience and confidence on the ball. His tackles were perfectly timed, and his ability to set up breaking passes on the attack yielded results.

DANE RICHARDS: N/A

Richards lone highlight was a near perfect cross to Angel that was barely cleared out by Eddie Robinson in the box. Minutes later, he pulled up lame with a strained hamstring. Dane came into the game with a knock, and Backe was wary of risking further in injury to his speedy winger.

SETH STAMMLER: 5

Starting once again on the left hand side, Stammler looked completely lost. And had it not been for a transition in mid game back to the central defensive midfield slot, his rating may have shot down even lower. Backe was clearly frustrated with his wing play, calling on Stammler on various occasions to the sideline to bark instructions at the out of place midfielder. His shots were errant, flying wide from absurd distances, and his distribution caused various turnovers. He only settled down when he was back in his natural defensive midfield position, where he played the heavy on many Dynamo attacks (which is his bread and butter).

SINISA UBIPARIPOVIC: 8

After so much hard work put in all season long, Sinisa found the back of the net in a well deserved goal (his first of the season). His growth, whether at the midfield slot or on the far right, has been outstanding, with his patience on the ball, dribbling ability and overall confidence permeating through his game. Another solid performance.

JOEL LINDPERE: 5

Clearly, Joel was not at 100%. Even so, Lindpere drove the ball well earlyand distributed well in the midfield slot. His crosses proved very effective early on, and his set piece deliveries in particular were strong, but once he suffered the leg contusion, Backe made the decision to pull him in the 47th.

JOHN WOLYNIEC: 7

Wolyniec is a hustler, and deserved a goal. As a matter of fact, his cross bar clanking shot was all on the back of his hard work and relentlessness. He was even able to beat his defender on various occasions to create dangerous opportunities up, top so much so that he was continuously hacked throughout the game. A prototypical Wolyniec performance on his 100th MLS start.

JUAN PABLO ANGEL: 8

What a difference 2 seconds can make. Up to that set piece game winner, Juan Pablo Angel was clearly wearing the goat horns. He could not beat Pat Onstad on two separate one on one situations, wasted various plays with poor distribution to attacking forwards and midfielders, was stoic early on in his play, and stiff in his deliveries. But all of that is erased with one shot on goal. Make no mistake about it; only Juan Pablo Angel can bury a shot like that. And a shot like that can overshadow all the bad that came before it.

SUBS:

CONOR CHINN: N/A (but encouraging)

Chinn came into the game at the 83rd minute, and almost immediately found himself on the end of a beautiful set piece cross that he was perfectly positioned to act upon. Conor has a natural ability to predict the path of a dangerous ball and put himself into position to make something happen. Of course, he didn’t do much in the waning minutes, but it is always encouraging to see a rookie have that kind of presence of mind.

TONY TCHANI: 7

Tonight, the Bulls saw a side of Tony Tchani they haven’t seen since his acquisition to the team; offensive threat. With Dane Richards down and Joel Lindpere falling to a leg contusion, Backe gave Tchani the green light to put high pressure and go on the attack. His deceptive speed and distributors touch lead to many a dangerous opportunity for the team, and helped keep the Dynamo on their heels.

JEREMY HALL: 6

Though he was able to cover on the left hand side, Hall wasted away plenty of possession opportunities late in the game with wild clearances up field instead of trying to hold on to the ball and look for the open man. He was effective, and at times, was able to push the ball forward, but his inability to patiently handle the ball when the team needed possession could have cost him.

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Photo gallery: RBNY 3, Juve 1

Posted on 28 May 2010 by ASN Staff

ASN photographer Scott Marsh was at the New York Red Bulls 3-1 win over Juventus Turin May 23 at Red Bull Arena.

A few of our favorite shots follow, without the customary snarky commentary because, well, the guy who writes them doesn’t care about these friendlies. Besides, the photos should speak for themselves. The full set can be viewed on our Facebook page. If you’re already a fan of our’s on Facebook go directly to the gallery here.

All photos ©Scott Marsh / ASN

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Garcia stakes his claim as starter as RBNY trounce Juve

Posted on 23 May 2010 by ASN Staff

Three second half goals paced the New York Red Bulls to a 3-1 victory over Italian Serie A club Juventus FC in front of 18,735 at Red Bull Arena Sunday afternoon. Jeremy Hall, Conor Chinn and captain Juan Pablo Angel all found the back of the net against the 27-time Italian Scudetto winner, but it was Irving Garcia who impressed most. The 22-year old rookie was everywhere, outdribbling the supposed world-class Juventus defenders and creating chances. If Hans Backe doesn’t start Garcia in Dane Richards’ place now he either didn’t watch the match or is being blackmailed. Come to think of it, maybe Richards does have something on the Swedish coach? Match report follows. Many more photos in our gallery dedicated to the match. Check it out.

Conor Chinn celebrates scoring the Red Bulls' second goal. At left Juve goalkeeper Alex Manninger picks himself off the ground ©Scott Marsh/ASN

It was the first-ever match between the two teams and Juventus became the first European club to play at Red Bull Arena.

Irving Garcia created a good opportunity for the hosts early on, as he cut around a Juventus defender and into the box before firing a shot that goalkeeper Alex Manninger punched over the net. Juventus had a few chances to take the lead in the 18th minute, but Brazilian midfielder Diego’s long range blast went straight into the arms of Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton. Two minutes later, Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero tried to catch Sutton off his line, but was unsuccessful as Sutton easily collected the ball.

In the 31st minute, the Juventus backline failed to deal with a Carlos Mendes clearance, and Chinn latched onto the loose ball. Chinn was unable to get a chance on goal however, as Juventus defender Jonathan Zebina caught up to the forward and cleared the ball out for a corner kick.

Del Piero nearly gave Juventus the lead in the 41st minute with their best chance of the first half. The former Italian international did well to create some space for himself in the left side of the Red Bulls box. He fired a shot that beat Sutton but clanged off the crossbar and over the net. The hosts had a great chance just three minutes later, as Chinn turned and fired from eight yards out and Manninger was forced to parry it away.

The Red Bulls broke the deadlock in the 50th minute. After Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s free kick attempt hit off the defensive wall, Garcia fired a shot from 25 yards out that hit the crossbar. The ball fell to Hall, who put home the rebound.

New York doubled its lead just five minutes later. Zebina gave the ball away in the New York end, and Red Bulls’ defender Roy Miller took the ball and raced forward on the left touchline. He sent a long cross into the box to Chinn, who chested the ball down before blasting a shot past Manninger.

Angel and Dane Richards both came into the match in the second half and combined for New York’s third goal. Richards used his speed down the right flank and sent a low cross into the box. Angel found himself all alone at the back post in front of Manninger, and easily finished the chance.

Juventus was able to pull one back in the 90th minute when forward Amauri fired a shot at the top of the box that beat Sutton.

Match Facts

New York Red Bulls 3, Juventus FC 1
May 23, 2010 – Red Bull Arena; Harrison, NJ
Attendance: 18,735

Scoring Summary:
NY: Jeremy Hall 50’
NY: Conor Chinn 55’
NY: Juan Pablo Angel 75’
JUV: Amauri 90’

Disciplinary Summary:
JUV: Goncalo Brandao (caution) 65’

Lineups:

New York Red Bulls – Greg Sutton (GK), Danleigh Borman (Roy Miller 46’), Carlos Mendes, Clebao*, Luke Sassano (Chris Albright 80’), Jeremy Hall (Seth Stammler 68’), Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Tony Tchani, Irving Garcia (Dane Richards 68’), John Wolyniec, Conor Chinn (Juan Pablo Angel 68’)

Juventus FC – Alex Manningger (GK) (Francesco Bardi 81’), Fabio Grosso (Yago Silva Falque 67’), Alessandro Bernardini (Alcibiade Raffaele 81’), Goncalo Brandao (Hasan Salihamidzic 86’), Jonathan Zebina (Zdenek Grygera 56’), Simone Padoin (Luca Bellacastro 81’), Luca Marrone, Diego (Michele Paolucci 56’), Antonio Candreva (Simone Esposito 67’), David Trezeguet (Amauri 46’), Alessandro Del Piero (Paolo de Ceglie 56’)

Referee: Juan Carlos Rivero
Referee’s Assistants: Jason Cullum, Steven Taylor
4th Referee: Mark Geiger

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Player ratings: Crew 3, RBNY 1

Posted on 21 May 2010 by ASN Staff

The New York Red Bulls put up a solid team effort that was hard done by the final 3-1 result loss to the Columbus Crew on May 20. What about individual efforts and, more importantly, individual performances? We get to that here in our player ratings:

Bouna Condoul: 6
Definitely a performance to build on. Liked his aggressiveness on early crosses. Why he backed off of this is a mystery and may have in fact had an impact on the second goal by Columbus. Also had a terrific save (off Adam Moffat?) in the second half and did well stifling other Crew shots. Believe this is the first loss of the season where we can honestly say he didn’t play a direct role. Little victories. But the next (MLS) match will be crucial because he’s had encouraging performances earlier only to relapse to his old ways the next time out.

Chris Albright: 6.5
Solid in the first half and that on both ends of the pitch. Was a stabilizing force on defense and in the attack kept the ball moving and had a few nice passes into space. Unfortunately came undone a bit in the second half where he was beaten by his man on several occasions and turned the ball over. Maybe he ran out of steam? Hopefully it wasn’t another (or the same) injury.

Mike Petke: 2
Sad that his 300th MLS game was also one of his worst in recent memory. Very little went right for him. Could have faulted him on the first goal, at least in part. The second was scored by his man so he bears most, if not all of the responsibility. The third was even more egregious and came at a time when the team was gathering momentum for a final push to equalize. To his credit he took responsibility for his poor play.

Tim Ream: 3
Had one or two strong moments in the first 30 minutes of the game, but that was it. Caught in no-man’s land on the first goal, between Frankie Hejduk and Eddie Gaven, though Petke probably should have done a better job covering for him. Terrible mistake on the third goal, though again his partner in central defense bears a large part of the burden. But his lack of pace is beginning to show as a liability. Perhaps teams are learning to take advantage of him?

Danleigh Borman: 5
Had a few strong moments, particularly in the first half, but was too inconsistent. Love his hustle but needs to take care of the ball better. Maybe better suited for midfield?

Sinisa Ubiparipovic: 7
Stellar first half; probably his best 45 minutes as a pro (or at least in recent memory). Effectively ran the offense in Joel Lindpere’s absence. Distributed the ball well, hustled, created space for his teammates. Exactly the type of stuff this team has been lacking from its midfield players, Lindpere excepted. Seemed to drop off a bit in the second half but still Hans Backe’s decision to substitute him was a curious one. Even though central midfield appears to be his natural position he may be more effective at right wing. Or at least more effective than Dane Richards.

Seth Stammler: 5
A completely average performance. Didn’t make any decisive mistakes but didn’t contribute all that much either, especially for the attack. Don’t think he’s starter material, frankly.

Roy Miller: 5
Had a poor first half but was playing out of position. Seriously, what’s up with these lineups by Backe? Miller is not a center midfielder. Left wing is enough of a stretch. And he was doing fine as left back. Why mess with a good thing? Don’t understand that. Came alive a bit in the second but created far too little. Then again, that’s not a role he’s suited for in the first place.

Jeremy Hall: 3
Did far too little. Needed to help out covering Hejduk as a left mid but failed to do so and it came back to haunt the team on the first goal. Contributed even less offensively. That changed a little in the second half when he was moved to the right side, but not enough. He’s going to have to do a lot more to keep his spot as a starter.

Juan Pablo Angel: 3.5
The freekick was nice (didn’t go in though, did it?) and it was good to see him find a seam in the defense for that early shot that went narrowly wide. But that’s it for nice things we can say about him. His first touch has abandoned him altogether. Literally every time in the second half that he had the ball he turned it over. Still can’t move. His retreats to midfield were a little better planned this time, but he did it far too often and dropped far too deep. Saw him even with the backline on a few occasions. Not sure what he’s trying to prove at this point.

Dane Richards: 6
As I suspected (on the latest Seeing Red! podcast) there was more use for him at forward than in the midfield. Did well to get open and show for the ball. But should have finished better. Or finished, period. Once again his weak technical abilities (no left foot) and inability to see the field (or, if you prefer, his “low soccer IQ”) haunted him. Either way should have done a lot more with his chances.

Tony Tchani: 8
Caused problems for the Crew defense as soon as he entered the match in the 65th minute. Looked great on the ball and love his strength and speed. One question: Why didn’t he start? The team clearly could have used his contributions. Congrats on the first goal, which displayed aerial ability to go with the footwork skills we already knew he had.

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Thierry Henry will not be available for the Crew Thursday…

Posted on 18 May 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

…neither will Salou Ibrahim or Carl Robinson. Or for that matter Austin da Luz, who will miss six weeks with a “Jones fracture” on his left foot. This information courtesy of the New York Red Bulls official Twitter account.

So where does that leave us?

With very few options in attack, for one. Juan Pablo Angel will almost certainly start. Not that there was any doubt before. But who will be paired with him on the front line? John Wolyniec? Perhaps the most realistic alternative. Brian Nielsen? That experiment didn’t exactly go well against the Sounders. Conor Chinn? He’s behind the aforementioned on Hans Backe’s depth chart. Dane Richards? Don’t laugh, it could happen.

Of course the choice of a striker partner for Angel depends in no small part on the midfield lineup. Hopefully Backe has had enough of the Seth Stammler at left midfield experiment. Regardless, Stammler is more urgently needed to fill Robinson’s spot of holding midfielder at this point. Does that mean Nielsen starts at left mid? One would expect so given his “deer in the headlights” performance at forward on Saturday.

Stammler is by no means a shoe-in to start at holding midfielder, however. Tony Tchani has played well in the role recently, especially in his one start at San Jose. This one is an open question and I don’t suspect Backe himself has decided on it at this point.

What about right mid? From Dane Richards’ early substitution from the Sounders match it would appear that Backe is finally on to his (numerous) shortcomings. Whether that translates into a benching is an entirely different matter of course.

I think one can reasonably expect Backe to roll the dice with Jeremy Hall in right midfield, for the following reasons:

  • Hall has been a good soldier and deserves his chance to start at his preferred position
  • He played effectively at the position in last week’s U.S. Open Cup win over New England
  • An element of surprise or unpredictability is needed against the Columbus Crew. Hall provides a spark at the position that other options (Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Dane Richards) do not.

That would leave Wolyniec or perhaps Richards as Angel’s striker partner. But if Backe doesn’t like what he’s seeing from Richards at right midfield it is doubtful he would want him as a forward. Wolyniec is old reliable. You know exactly what you’re going to get. And he and Angel have trained and played together for more than three years.

Don’t expect Bouna Condoul to sit either, even though he probably should. Conor Chinn will likely make the bench along with Ubiparipovic, Stammler (if he doesn’t start), Tchani (if Stammler does), Carlos Mendes and perhaps Irving Garcia.

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Player ratings: Sounders 1, RBNY 0

Posted on 16 May 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

The New York Red Bulls lost their first home game of the season Saturday night, succumbing to the Seattle Sounders by a 1-0 score. The decisive goal came in the 85th minute off the foot of Fredy Montero. It was an all-around disappointing performance by the Red Bulls, who despite what some players might say did not do enough to win. Here are the individual player ratings.

Bouna Condoul: 3
Sometimes you know after one play the type of game a player is going to have. Coundoul, whose psyche appears more fragile than others’ at times, is one of those players. (Why you want a guy like that tending your goal is another question entirely). Here the play in question came in the very first minute of play, when he handled the ball outside of the 18-yard box. Looked incredibly shaky on crosses and there was that one play where he was bailed out by Danleigh Borman. He’s taking his goal kicks now, but not to much improved effect. Can also fault him for being out of position on the goal, though Mike Petke is clearly the greater culprit. Well, him and the referee for calling the decisive free kick in the first place.

Jeremy Hall: 6
Actually seemed to keep Steve Zakuani in check. Or did Seattle not try to launch Zakuani? Hard to say, but give Hall credit for holding his ground when he was called on. Did little for the team’s attack, which can be expected with the confusion Richards and Angel were creating. But had a chance to make a cross late in the half and did so poorly, playing it long where only Kasey Keller could catch it. Was excellent late in the game. Something to build on, perhaps. Which is more than you can say about just about any of his teammates.

Mike Petke: 5.5
Largely solid until the deciding play of the game, though did not look good on a first half chance where Zakuani narrowly missed the far corner of the goal. But should have done a lot better against Montero on the goal. Of course that’s easier said than done; Montero was fresh, just 10 minutes after entering. Petke was tired. A fresh Petke might have made the play. And he’s what, 10 years older than Montero? Also Condoul did him no favors on the play.

Tim Ream: 6
Played his position well, did a good job cleaning up the Red Bulls’ defense, passed the ball well; in short it was the type of performance we have come to appreciate from the rookie. Went a long way toward proving the performance at San Jose was a fluke. Well done.

Danleigh Borman: 6.5
Was beaten by Nyassi several times in the first half and stumbled when he should have launched Angel right on the stroke of halftime. But terrific effort recovering a Condoul mishap early in the second half. And did well later in the second also, keeping the underwear model in check and largely shutting his side of the field down.

Dane Richards: 3
Few “Dane being Dane” moments (when he puts his head down and sprints to the endline) but that does not mean he had a good match. Far from it, in fact. Turned over a ball early on that led to a Seattle counter-attack that was broken up at the last moment by Borman probably getting away with a foul on the former underwear model. Later took a ball away from Robinson that the Welshman could have fired on (if not into) goal. Decision-making questionable or worse. Didn’t contribute anything to the team’s attack and didn’t do much for its defense either.

Carl Robinson: 5.5
His best game as a New York Red Bull. Positioned himself well, made some key tackles, even had a few nice passes. Others were badly taken, however and a few of these could have launched attacks had they been on the money. Also should have been more on the spot on the decisive free kick, but then it was a questionable call to begin with.

Joel Lindpere: 5.5
Had some excellent moments in the first half, then disappeared, only to resurface in the 70th minute when he dove trying to draw a penalty. Yes it was a dive, though there was a little contact. Having re-watched the play on video, I can now make a more definitive assessment than I made on Twitter. Would have liked to see more of him. This is a common complaint about the Estonian Express, though the formation in the second half seemed to confuse a lot of people, him included.

Seth Stammler: 4
Granted left midfield is not his preferred position, but this effort was insufficient. His offensive forays were frankly pathetic. But again: attacking is not his game. Have to question the decision to play him at this position in a home match. Surely there were better options, even if it meant moving Lindpere out there and starting, say Tony Tchani in Lindpere’s spot.

Salou Ibrahim: 3
Looked lost. What was with the breakaway in the first half where he held up to square the ball? Don’t you try to rush to goal in those situations? Didn’t do anywhere near enough before leaving the match shortly after halftime. Hopefully his injury isn’t serious. Otherwise we could be seeing John Wolyniec or Conor Chinn in his spot.

Juan Pablo Angel: 2
His mobility is about nil at this point, so why is he running all over the pitch? Showed up at very strange positions, which may have contributed to Ibrahim’s confusion (see above). Spent a lot of time complaining about service, but didn’t make any runs other than to track back into midfield where his presence was about as welcome as an illegitimate child at Easter dinner. Quickly turning into a pathetic figure, hobbling around with what appear to be backpains (or something) trying to direct traffic and complaining to refs and teammates alike. (In fairness he had some valid complaints, particularly with Dane Richards). But things are going to come to a head soon on this. They’re going to have to. More on that in the Good, Bad, Dead, Red column tomorrow.

Substitutes:
Brian Nielsen: 5

Had a few good runs toward the end of the match but could have done a lot more. Obviously struggled to fit into the second forward spot and looked pathetic throwing himself onto the ground in search for a call. MLS refs are bad, but they aren’t that bad. And they’ll err on the side of playing on, too.

Sinisa Ubiparipovic: 4.5
Saw a lot of the ball after entering for Dane Richards, but did little with it. A few times made completely errant passes. Did have a nice cross that Nielsen should have done more with, however.

Tony Tchani: N/A

Did not play anywhere near enough (three minutes plus stoppage) to generate a rating.

More ASN coverage of the match

Hans Backe’s postgame press conference audio

Mike Petke makes his feelings known on the match

Photo gallery

Red Bull New York statement re: PATH station

Discuss the game on our forum, where you can also share your stories from the PATH fiasco.

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The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 10 May 2010 by ASN Staff

Welcome to the seventh installment of this feature, which will run within a day or two of the team’s last game, this season. Today we focus on the New York Red Bulls’ 4-0 defeat at San Jose on Saturday. To see an explanation of these terms (Good, Bad, Red, Dead) skip to the bottom of this page.

The Good:

Tony Tchani played well in his first MLS start. He’s got a few kinks to sort out but he can definitely become a solid contributor in this league. Maybe a lot more than that.

Salou Ibrahim wasn’t terrible.

Yes, that’s what we have to resort to this week in “The Good” category. “Not terrible.” That kind of week, folks. Hopefully there won’t be one of these for quite some time.

I suppose that’s another good thing; that this is an anomaly rather than the norm it was last year. Or at least it has been so far.

The Bad:

Start with the team as a whole. They clearly quit after the second San Jose goal. It wasn’t so much about keeping the Quakes’ margin of victory respectable (goal difference carries little weight in MLS) but that it just doesn’t speak well to the team’s spirit. It was the first time you can really say the team as a whole disappointed this season.

If we’re going to pick on individual players for their gaffes (and yes, we absolutely will) it starts with one name: Luke Sassano.

Contrary to many fans, I do not fault Hans Backe for starting Sassano in Jeremy Hall’s place. Hall has been a major defensive liability and with Bobby Convey in form it was going to make for a long night. Of course, as it turned out it was a long night anyway. Blame Sassano for this. All he had to do was keep Convey in check, guard the byline and eliminate his runs down that side. Okay, so that’s a lot easier said than done. But the point is that having a defensive player in that role, even if it’s just to cut off some passing lanes, would have done more for the team’s defense than Jeremy Hall does at that position. The one caveat being that the player in question had to actually stay in the game. Sassano failed at this in a very egregious manner, by committing a boneheaded foul (that was absolutely red card worthy by the way) and getting himself sent off after 13 minutes.

That foul threw the entire gameplan, of which Sassano played a major role, out the window. The team basically had to retreat into a shell, with Seth Stammler abandoning his spot in left midfield to take over the right back spot. This cut into the Red Bulls’ presence in midfield, which in turn eliminated the service to the forwards.

Even so they should have done better.

Tim Ream finally had his rookie game. It was unfortunate that it happened right when the team was forced to rely on him more than usual. We’re willing to give him a pass because it’s the first time this happened. But his overall level of urgency seemed lacking. He was burned on the first Quakes goal and had a large part in the second (though not as much as the guy we’re about to pick on). I realize part of this is Ream’s overall demeanor, but still, you want to see somebody a little more fired up in those situations.

Bouna Condoul’s gaffe gifted the Quakes their second goal, causing the team to pack it in before losing 4-0. You can’t blame Bouna for the fact that the team quit, but you can blame him for letting in a soft goal when the team could ill afford it. A two goal deficit in the second half, with a man down on the road is very, very difficult to come back from. But the Red Bulls certainly could have salvaged something had the score remained 1-0 for awhile. It didn’t though, and the reason for that has a name: Bouna Condoul (with assist to Tim Ream).

Seth Stammler needs to step up in situations like this. I know it’s not an ideal scenario, but he and Mike Petke were the veteran guys back there and the team really could have used some leadership.

The Red:

Juan Pablo Angel looked completely lost. He could barely move after about 20 minutes. This has been going on too long to write it off as a lingering injury or bad form. It may very well be one or the other, or even both, but age and wear and tear are no doubt the larger factors. We are in all likelihood witnessing the twilight of Angel’s career. At this point you can barely justify bringing him back as as non-designated player next year. Or, if current patterns hold you won’t be able to at season end. Very sad.

After such a disappointing loss, what will the turnout be this weekend against the Seattle Sounders?

If the gate is even weaker than it was for Philly (say 13K or below) and the Red Bulls lose, then what?

Who exactly are this team’s leaders? Angel is ineffective. Mike Petke? He didn’t appear to do the job Saturday, or even want it. Stammler? Not a regular starter. Lindpere, Carl Robinson, Roy Miller and Ibrahim Salou are too new. Dane Richards? Uh, right.

What role, if any, does Backe envision for Jeremy Hall? Obviously Sassano is not a realistic alternative, but we’re (again) expecting Chris Albright to start Saturday at right back.

Speaking of Backe, how, if at all, does he react to the team’s first truly disappointing outing of the season?

The Dead
Who does this team have to play goalie? It appears neither Coundoul nor Greg Sutton are up for the job. Where have you gone Caleb Patterson-Sewell?

Will Sassano get a chance to redeem himself in the US Open Cup game Wednesday? Or did he hang himself with the rope Backe supplied him?

Explanation of terms

The Good – Should speak for itself. Players, formations, strategies, substitutions and other things that “looked good” for whatever reason (but not aesthetically. We don’t care about players’ hairstyles and the like).

The Bad – Opposite of good. Who and what looked lousy and why.

The Red – Things that have us concerned. Primarily individual play but could also be strategies, (lack of) substitutions and putting players at positions they have no business occupying (though that practice thankfully appears done with the departure of Juan Carlos Osorio).

The Dead – Players, schemes or strategies that deserve to be put out to pasture.

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Give n' Quake A dialogue with San Jose Web site CenterLineSoccer

Posted on 07 May 2010 by ASN Staff

ASN was approached by CenterLineSoccer‘s Robert Jonas this week, who came to us with a unique idea for a preview of this weekend’s New York Red Bulls v San Jose Earthquakes match. (CenterLineSoccer, for the uninitiated, is the leading soccer website for all things Quakes and Bay Area soccer). Jonas’ idea was to engage in an email dialogue where he and ASN’s Red Bulls’ correspondent Nathaniel Baker would ask each other questions about their respective teams. The resulting give-and-take would be transcribed in its entirety, and would surely be an interesting read for fans of both teams. Here is the result of these efforts:

CenterLineSoccer: RBNY looks like a completely different team on the field this season as compared to 2009, and now has 15 points in their first six games. What is it about the coaching style of Hans Backe and the tactical strategy he has installed that has lead to such a remarkable start to the season?

ASN: What Backe (and GM Erik Soler, who also deserves credit) have done is boil things down to where they are very simple: A straightforward 4-4-2 formation. Players are slotted into an assigned position and are kept there. Tinkering with the lineup is kept at an absolute minimum, if not excluded outright. The strategy is simple as well: Control possession, try to dominate the midfield. If nobody is open play the ball long rather than try something fancy.

This is 180 degrees different from what Juan Carlos Osorio was doing last year. He switched formations constantly and was never satisfied with a player’s position, moving guys in and out of slots whether they had played there before (or had any aptitude for it) or not. He seemed obsessed with creating a quasi “Italian” style of defensive system, but took this to ridiculous extremes, sometimes bunkering regardless if the team had the lead. I swear I saw him bunker when the team was actually down a goal. He’d also substitute in defensive players when the team was losing. Crazy stuff like that.

Backe also brings experience as a head coach. Osorio had a brief stint at the Chicago Fire but otherwise had never been a head coach before. He also struck me as a micromanager where Backe is more of a laid back Scandinavian guy.

Having said that, from a personnel perspective this team is very similar to the one that went 5-30 (or whatever it was) in 2009. Seven of 11 starters were with the team last year. And honestly, its performances have not been dominant this year. In fact, it has several lucky wins. Sure, you create your own luck to an extent. But with one exception (last weekend’s win at DC United), all victories have come by one goal. I think the team benefited from having some opposing players (Jeff Cunningham and Freddie Ljungberg come to mind) in early season form where they didn’t convert gimme chances. Jeremy Hall is a liability at right back but he may be replaced by Chris Albright on Saturday, who is returning from injury.

Convey's play has been a big difference this year for the Quakes

That actually serves as a perfect lead-in for my question to you: Is Bobby Convey’s renaissance for real? Because if it is, and if Jeremy Hall starts at right back, it could be a long day for the New York Red Bulls.

Bobby Convey is playing with a new found vigor this season that seemed inconsistent in 2009. Paired on the left side of the Quakes 4-4-2 formation with defender Ramiro Corrales, the two US Men’s National Team veterans are working well together both in defense and transition. Last year, the Quakes had Darren Huckerby as the left winger, and tried to play Convey at left back. The combination did not suit the playing style of Convey, as Huckerby did little to help in defense, so he needed to stay rooted to the defensive line. As a midfielder, he has the opportunities to get forward both with possession and as a target winger. Corrales is also able to venture forward at times, and Convey is able to cover for him. Additionally, Convey is taking care of some of the dirty work in midfield by effectively challenging opponents with tight coverage and slide tackles. Looking at his performances after the season opener, Convey continues to improve and he has established himself as the Quakes first-choice midfield winger.

A big problem for the Red Bulls last season was in defense, where the team leaked in an Eastern Conference high 47 goals. What is the difference so far this season?

Ah, excellent question. This is one area the team actually has been transformed personnel-wise. Other than the aforementioned Jeremy Hall, that is. Roy Miller was brought in to play left back and has done admirably. Mike Petke, whom a lot of people had written off as washed up after last season, has had a rebirth. But the biggest difference has been the emergence of rookie Tim Ream at the other centerback spot. The kid is amazing and plays with a poise way beyond his 22 years. Nobody quite knows how he fell so far in the draft (late second round, behind many guys who haven’t even seen significant minutes) because he appears to be an early favorite for rookie of the year. We’ve already penciled him in as a future national team back. That’s obviously a bit premature and he only has six professional games under his belt. But he has been the biggest difference for this team.

Speaking of defense, the Quakes haven’t allowed a goal at home since the first game of the season? Is that a coincidence or is there an explanation for it?

The Earthquakes were even worse defensively than the Red Bulls last season, letting in a league-high 50 goals. After the 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake in the home opener, many feared the team would continue down that path. However, I watched these guys spend a great deal of the preseason working to define their defensive shape. 2009 starters Jason Hernandez, Chris Leitch, and Corrales all returned, while drafted newcomers Ike Opara and Steve Beitashour along with ex-Chivas USA defender Bobby Burling joined together to form a cohesive group. Coach Frank Yallop has needed to juggle the starting four from that group, but with little consequence on the field. With Joe Cannon fully healthy and not facing a barrage of MLS Goal of the Week candidates, the Quakes are settling in with a defensive shape that was often lacking last season. Add to that the effect of Brandon McDonald as a defensive midfielder and a narrow field at Buck Shaw Stadium, and opposing offensives have little space to be creative in front of the Earthquakes goal.

Knowing that, what will New York forwards Juan Pablo Angel and Salou Ibrahim need to do to create chances in the offensive third? What has worked for them so far this season?

I’m not sure Angel and Ibrahim need to create chances per se; they just need to convert them. So the more relevant question is who and what can serve them the ball? The answer is Joel Lindpere. Probably the most influential acquisition the team made in the off season (even more than Ream), Lindpere brings pace and creativity to the Red Bulls’ central midfield. Then again, the is Buck Shaw so isn’t everything central midfield? It’s not like there is ample space on the wings to exploit.

Another guy to watch is Dane Richards, who had his best game of the year against DC, assisting on the winning goal. But Richards is a head case (in that he doesn’t appear to have that much upstairs) and has been maddeningly inconsistent. He’ll show signs of life, or of becoming a legitimate star, and then he’ll follow it up with a performance that leaves fans scratching their heads and calling for his scalp. So if past patterns hold, the Quakes should have nothing to worry about. Then again, Dane hasn’t been THIS good in a long time. So who knows.

Then there’s the left midfield spot, which will be occupied by the team’s newest acquisition, Brian Nielsen, if he is healthy (heard something about him having some irregular pulse or something). This guy has mad pace and technical skills to boot. But again, with space at a premium will he be able to work his magic?

Are you serious? Is Chris Leitch playing well for you guys? We had him a couple of years ago and he scored more goals for the opposing team (quite literally) than prevent them.

Leitch did very well last season, missing only one game due to a red card suspension. His consistent play on the right side and his ability to run the wing into the attacking half resulted in him being named the Earthquakes 2009 defender of the year. Perhaps he is a changed player from his time in New York. Instead, I propose that Leitch is now playing a position he is comfortable in, with a centerback in Hernandez that helps him cover the right side of the defensive four. Heck, he even scored a wonderful goal in the failed U.S. Open Cup play-in game back in April against Real Salt Lake.

Paired on the right side with crafty midfielder Joey Gjertsen, a former USL-1 MVP, Leitch should continue his stable ways this season. The nine-year veteran is now hitting his peak playing years.

So I want to know, what formation should we expect from the Red Bulls, and how are they going to manage to break down what is proving to be a very stubborn Earthquakes defense?

Okay well you’re definitely going to see a straight-up 4-4-2, which the team has played with all season. The back line will consist of Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Mike Petke and Jeremy Hall (Chris Albright will not make the trip).

Those are definites. The forward line of Salou Ibrahim and Juan Pablo Angel is pretty much certain as well. Where it gets interesting is in midfield. Brian Nielsen, who should start at left mid, is at best a substitute for this match. Carl Robinson is out. So the Red Bulls have to fill half of its midfield starters. Dane Richards at RM and Joel Lindpere in the center are definites.

I expect to see Seth Stammler at left midfield, a position he played well at DC last week. With the narrow Buck Shaw pitch you can afford to put a central midfielder in that spot. I also expect to see Tony Tchani start for Robinson. This would be Tchani’s first start in MLS.

So who are the Quakes main forward threats?

The Earthquakes made some noise this offseason by signing the Brazilian forward Eduardo as a free agent from FC Basel in Switzerland, and also picked up ex-Quake and KC Wizard Scott Sealy on his return from the Israeli league. However, both veterans currently reside on the bench as coach Yallop has chosen to go with last year’s leading scorer Ryan Johnson alongside Chris Wondolowski. Wondo, as we all call him, got his first start this season due to a spate of injuries to the guys ahead of him of the depth chart, and has seized his chance with three goals in his last three starts.

While there is some concern that Johnson has yet to get on the scoresheet, he has had some quality chances early on this season. The Quakes are content to soak up pressure with their defense then attack directly up field on the counterattack. As opportunistic finishers Johnson and Wondo are well suited to strike when the chances come. Wingers Joey Gjertsen and Bobby Convey will also join the attack, especially as providers of the ball into the penalty area. It should be a lot of fun to watch Johnson and Wondo challange for the ball against the Red Bulls tough central defensive due of Mike Petke and Tim Ream.

Well, Nathaniel, time to ask you what is your prediction for the weekend? Can the Red Bulls continue their road success and stretch their Eastern Conference lead with a possible win against the Quakes?

Honestly, I doubt it. Wondo is hot and we know Ryan Johnson has skills. He’ll also be able to knock Ream around a bit. I don’t think Jeremy Hall will be able to contain Bobby Convey at all. Another thing we haven’t discussed yet is goalkeeper play. Bouna Condoul is a terrific athlete and excellent shot stopper but cannot play the position to save his life. He’s a liability, though the narrow pitch should help him some (fewer crosses). Unfortunately I’m stuck with a 2-2 prediction, which is what I called on a pair of podcasts this week (Around The League and Seeing Red! The New York Soccer Roundup). In fairness, I made those thinking Albright would play for Hall. If I could have a do-over in light of this development I would call 3-1 Quakes.

Well, I feel the Earthquakes are content to play a simple strategy of defend and counterattack. Hopefully, the quality of play won’t be as ugly as it was at times against Colorado, but I predict the game will have the same final score. Another 1-0 win for the Quakes and their third home shutout in a row.

Robert Jonas can be heard on the MLS review show on Major League Soccer Talk every other week. His twitter handle is @robertjonas

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The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 03 May 2010 by ASN Staff

Welcome to the sixth installment of this feature, which will run within a day or two of the team’s last game, this season. Today we focus on the New York Red Bulls’ 2-0 defeat of DC United on Saturday–the team’s first win at RFK Stadium since 2005. To see an explanation of these terms (Good, Bad, Red, Dead) skip to the bottom of this page.

The Good
The team is firing on all cylinders. Things are clicking. Morale is high. Very high in fact. This is not just conjecture, but based on what I observed in the team’s RFK Stadium locker room after Saturday’s victory.

We haven’t said much about Hans Backe except to criticize him for not using all his subs in the season opener against Chicago. Some praise is due. Probably even a lot of praise. Keep in mind seven of 11 starters from this squad were on the team that managed five wins all of last season. Yet here we are six games in to the 2010 campaign and the Red Bulls have already matched their victory total from all of last year. Yes, Joel Lindpere and Tim Ream have made a big difference. But Salou Ibrahim and Carl Robinson? Not so much (though Ibrahim has played well). Clearly the coach deserves credit. Both coaches, actually. While Backe has undoubtedly done an admirable job, it makes Juan Carlos Osorio look like even more of a clueless lost cause. How he’s having success in Colombia is beyond me.

Dane Richards. I picked up on some signs of improvement in the FC Dallas game (when he was “good”). Philly was a step back (had him “red”) but he was terrific Saturday. In fact, he leads the man of the match poll and at this point is a favorite to be my “bull” of the week on this week’s Seeing Red! podcast. Yes, you heard correctly: I am singing the praises of Dane Richards. And guess what? He deserves it.

Juan Pablo Angel is creating chances and scoring goals. In the first half of Saturday’s game his “midfield work” was more a disruption than anything else, but in the second half it resulted in a goal. But this does not mean Angel is exempt from criticism either. More on that further down.

Seth Stammler had another strong game, this time at left midfield. With Brian Nielsen presumably starting in that spot at San Jose on Saturday, it means Stammler should start in Carl Robinson’s spot at holding midfield. But it may not happen. Backe seems to like Robinson, for whatever reason.

The Bad:
Robinson. Really hard to figure out why he continues to start. He can’t really control the ball, can’t pass it and can barely run the pitch.

Bouna Condoul still can’t play goalkeeper. He’s great at stopping shots though.

What’s going on with Roy Miller? He played poorly again. Seems to lack focus or something.

The Red:
Angel’s conversion ratio of goal chances is very poor. He could have had three or four Saturday.

Salou also had an egregious miss late in the second half.

The team was poor defensively in the first half. DC should have scored at least two or three goals. The Red Bulls continue to dodge bullets in this area; we saw the same thing in the Dallas and Seattle games and elsewhere. Eventually it’s going to catch up with them and one of these brainfarts is going to result in a goal. MLS strikers may not be great but they’re better than this.

The San Jose Earthquakes are playing well and there is reason to be apprehensive about that game.

The Dead:
Jeremy Hall’s sojourn at right back appears to be, at least for now. Chris Albright is eligible to return from the injured list in Saturday’s match. Unless Backe decides he isn’t match fit, Albright should start. With Dane Richards now playing a lot better, you don’t want to give that spot to Hall either. Maybe try him on the left side? No, too many other options there. If Albright starts, Richards keeps improving and everybody else stays healthy, it’s hard to find a spot for Hall in the starting lineup.

Tim Ream has likely taken his last goal kick for a little while. Coundoul is apparently ready to resume those duties, per Backe.

Explanation

The Good – Should speak for itself. Players, formations, strategies, substitutions and other things that “looked good” for whatever reason (but not aesthetically. We don’t care about players’ hairstyles and the like).

The Bad – Opposite of good. Who and what looked lousy and why.

The Red – Things that have us concerned. Primarily individual play but could also be strategies, (lack of) substitutions and putting players at positions they have no business occupying (though that practice thankfully appears done with the departure of Juan Carlos Osorio).

The Dead – Players, schemes or strategies that deserve to be put out to pasture.

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