Tag Archive | "Red Bull Arena"

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Quel Debut! Henry scores as RBNY fall to Spurs in Barclays opener

Posted on 23 July 2010 by ASN Staff

It’s entirely possible that we’ve been minimizing the impact of Thierry Henry on the New York Red Bulls and Major League Soccer. In a game that counted little if anything in the grand scheme of things, Henry dazzled a crowd of 20,312 (third biggest ever) at Red Bull Arena on Thursday night. The Frenchman was everywhere, beating his man off the dribble, playing passes into space to set up teammates and ultimate scoring his first goal in a Red Bulls kit.

Check out the Thierry Henry photo gallery from the match, courtesy of ASN’s Scott Marsh!

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Still, it’s hard to describe just how awesome TH14 looked on the pitch. It was literally like a varsity high school star joined a bunch of preteens for a pickup match. At times his teammates (Macoumba Kandji in particular) didn’t seem to know what to do with his pristine service.

Ultimately Red Bulls were defeated by Spurs 2-1 in the first Barclays New York Challenge match after Tottenham struck twice in the second half to earn the victory. Big deal. That’s not why we’ll remember this one. Undoubtedly, this is the start of great things to come for the Thierry Henry reign at Red Bull Arena. No pressure though.

Henry ended up scoring his first goal in a Red Bulls uniform in the 25th minute. Midfielder Joel Lindpere expertly beat a Tottenham defender in the left side of the penalty area and sent the ball across the face of goal, where a sliding Henry was able to guide the ball to the far side netting.

Goalkeeper Greg Sutton was one of the Red Bulls’ three halftime substitutions, and the Canadian was forced into early action. Spurs fullback Alan Hutton sent a high, looping cross that Niko Krancjar hit on the full volley, but Sutton made a diving stop to push the ball past the post for a corner.

Tottenham leveled the match in the 62nd minute off a corner kick. Sutton tried to catch the corner at the top of the box but it went off his fingertips and over his head towards the far post, where Keane was there to volley it in. The visitors then took the lead 10 minutes later on a miscue from the New York defense. Substitute defender Jeremy Hall tried to head the ball back to Sutton, but Bale intercepted the pass and knocked the ball underneath the keeper to put Spurs up.

New York had multiple opportunities to tie the match about 10 minutes from full time. Cudicini denied Conor Chinn’s close range effort in the 78th minute, and a minute later, Richards’ attempt from the top of the box just missed the top corner. Off a corner kick in the 80th minute, Mike Petke rose and headed the ball over Cudicini, but off the crossbar.

Match Report

Barclays New York Challenge: New York Red Bulls 1, Tottenham Hotspur FC 2
July 22, 2010 – Red Bull Arena; Harrison, NJ
Attendance: 20,312

Scoring Summary:
NY: Henry (Lindpere) 25’
TOT: Keane (unassisted) 62’
TOT: Bale (unassisted 72’

Disciplinary Summary:
NY: Tim Ream (caution) 16’

Lineups:
New York Red Bulls – Bouna Coundoul (GK) (Greg Sutton 46’), Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Carlos Mendes (Mike Petke 46’), Chris Albright (Jeremy Hall 64’), Carl Robinson (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 63’), Joel Lindpere, Seth Stammler (Conor Chinn 77’), Dane Richards, Macoumba Kandji, Thierry Henry (Tony Tchani 46’)

Substitute Not Used: Danleigh Borman

Tottenham Hotspur FC – Carlo Cudicini (GK), Alan Hutton, Gareth Bale, Kyle Naughton, Vedran Corluka (Adel Taarabt 46’), Kyle Walker (Andros Townsend 46’), Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Luka Modric (Ryan Mason 76’), Niko Kranjcar (Danny Rose 70’), Robbie Keane

Substitutes Not Used: Jonathan Obika, David Button, Adam Smith

Officials:

Referee: Chris Penso
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey, Steven Taylor
4th Referee: Jorge Gonzalez

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Photo gallery: RBNY take Atlantic Cup

Posted on 11 July 2010 by ASN Staff

ASN photographer Scott Marsh was at the New York Red Bulls scoreless draw with DC United on July 10 at Red Bull Arena.

A few of our favorite shots follow, complete with snarky commentary (by ASN). 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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Episode 15: RBNY managing director Erik Stover

Posted on 27 June 2010 by ASN Staff

Seeing Red! The New York Soccer Roundup

With ASN’s representative away on World Cup duty, Mark and Dave welcome New York Red Bulls Erik Stover 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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A reference guide for new fans and visitors to Red Bull Arena

Posted on 28 May 2010 by ASN Staff

First off, welcome! We’re glad you’ve decided to follow this team, even if it is just on a cursory and/or exploratory basis. Before you ask, AmericanSoccerNews.net has no affiliation, official or otherwise, with Major League Soccer. We are not paid by MLS or by the New York Red Bulls and have no commercial stake in the team, its stadium or its primary benefactor, Red Bull AG. Our only interest is to grow the sport of soccer in this country and of course cultivate readership.

The following items will be addressed. You may skip to the respective section directly:

MLS vs European leagues


There are several fundamental differences.

In virtually all European leagues teams play each other twice in a round-robin format. Results are compiled in a single table and the team with the most points when it’s all said and done wins the championship. Simple!

MLS is not so simple. The 16 teams are split into two “conferences,” Eastern and Western. Starting this year MLS has a balanced schedule where each of the 16 teams play each other twice. But tables are kept for both conferences and the “regular season” schedule of round robin play is followed by playoffs (which are so complex we saw the need to address them in their own section).

Even more fundamentally, there is no such thing as individual control of teams in MLS. All clubs are owned by the league itself. Individual teams can and do have outside investors but these are views as “partners” of the league. So all player signings are controlled by the league, which then allocates the players to individual clubs. This may sound vaguely socialist but it was created to establish strict cost control. MLS was rightfully spooked by the free-spending ways of the old NASL, which bankrupted itself after a brief heyday in the late 1970s. MLS’ structure was challenged (and upheld) in court and the league went to great lengths to defend it during the recent collective bargaining agreement negotiations with players.

MLS also has a strict salary cap, though it allows up to three exemptions (so called “designated players,” or DPs, whose salaries do not count against the cap).

As a result there is far more parity in MLS than there is any European league. On any given matchday any team can win any game (this is a truism elsewhere in the world; in MLS it’s a fact. A coin flip is likely to give as good a prediction as anything else. No wonder MLS has not caught on in Vegas!). A few teams have natural home field advantages, due to strong fan support for example, but because of the strict cost controls there is generally little to separate the quality and talent of individual teams. Proponents say this makes every matchday exciting and the league unpredictable and fun. Critics say it doesn’t allow a dominant club or two to develop that would create a balance of power in the league, which in turn would make MLS more enjoyable.

The style of play can best be described as a hybrid of an ultra physical, raw version of the British game and the more defensive, ball-control Latin American leagues. This is largely due to the proliferation of British and Latin American coaches in MLS. A few coaches (usually U.S. coaches, ironically) try to play a more refined continental style but they are in the minority. Newcomers to MLS are sometimes shocked by its physicality. Games can get very rough and referees let a lot go. Technically, most MLS players are not as gifted as their continental or South American counterparts but they make up for it with their athletic ability and physical prowess.

MLS playoffs


Eight of the 16 teams make the playoffs. That’s the simple part. Where it gets complex is deciding which eight teams qualify. From the league’s Web site (better to take this verbatim. Too difficult to paraphrase):

  • The top two teams in each conference qualify and are seeded 1 & 2 in their respective four-team playoff conference brackets.
  • The four MLS teams with the next most points, regardless of conference, receive “wildcard” berths.
  • The four wildcard teams will be seeded according to conference first.
  • If more than four teams qualify from one conference, the team finishing lower than fourth in its conference will shift over to the other conference bracket.
  • A team switching conference brackets will be seeded below all other teams in its new conference playoff bracket.

You might think that with all of this it would be a lot easier to just have a single table and then have playoffs? But MLS is married to the conferences, for whatever reason.

The first round of playoffs are home-and-away (no away goal rule though!) followed by a single game conference championship and MLS Cup for all the marbles. MLS Cup is played at a venue determined earlier. This year it’s in Toronto.

Introducing the Supporters’ Shield


So the best teams in the league during the regular don’t win anything unless they succeed in the playoffs?

Wrong.

There is something called the “Supporters Shield” which is awarded each year to the MLS team with the best regular season record. The Supporters Shield table has a pretty neat history you can and should read about on its official Web site. Besides the trophy (and of course bragging rights) the competition’s winner qualifies automatically for the CONCACAF Champions League.

The U.S. Open Cup


Does the U.S. have an FA Cup? Yes it does. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (links to official Web site) is in fact the oldest national soccer competition in the U.S. It began in 1914 and despite two world wars, a depression, countless recessions, stagflation, Cold War, culture wars and a whole bunch of other stuff has been held every year since. NASL clubs shunned the cup but MLS clubs have been active (if not always enthusiastic) participants since the league was founded in 1996. Unlike the FA Cup where teams enter different stages of competition based on their league level, the US Open Cup takes just eight teams from each division and enters them at the same time. MLS throws another wrinkle into this by allowing just the first six teams from the previous year’s Supporters’ Shield table automatic entry. The other 10 have to compete in a play-in tournament. This year, the New York Red Bulls host Philadelphia Union in the first play-in game April 27. If they win, the New England Revolution loom next. Don’t expect teams to field their best players, however, but with a healthy rivalry brewing between the Union and Red Bulls expect both fans and the players who do play to take it very seriously.

Since 2008 the US Open Cup champion also gains an automatic berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. What’s that, you ask? Read on and you’ll find out.

Continental competitions


Much like Europe has the UEFA Champions League and Europa League and South America has the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, so CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) holds the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL for short). The premise is identical to continental competitions elsewhere, which is to crown a continental club champion (duh). Just like elsewhere, the winner gets to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup. MLS clubs have not done very well historically (last year the Red Bulls lost to a semipro team from Trinidad).

As many as five MLS clubs qualify for the tournament: The MLS Cup champion and runner-up (that’s how Red Bulls got in last year), the Supporters’ Shield winner, the US Open Cup champion and the Canadian champion. The latter two are not automatically (or even regularly) won by MLS clubs.

Meet the New York Red Bulls star player


The team’s undisputed biggest name is Juan Pablo Angel, a former Colombian international who also played for River Plate in Argentina and Aston Villa in the English Premier League. Angel is also the team’s lone “designated player”. The striker scored an absurd amount of goals after joining the team early in the 2007 season but has more recently been slowed by injuries. This year he has yet to score in three games. It is a testament to Angel’s scoring prowess that anybody would take note of a three game goalless streak.

Other than Angel, it’s pretty slim pickings as far as “recognizable names” are concerned. Centerback Mike Petke, a local boy (he hails from Bohemia, N.Y.), is a crowd favorite and has two caps with the U.S. national team. Joel Lindpere, a newcomer to the team this year, is fast becoming a fan favorite as well, after scoring in the team’s first and second games at Red Bull Arena. Lindpere is an Estonian international (in fact the first Estonian to play in MLS). Midfielder Carl Robinson had a long career in England and for the Wales national team before joining Red Bull this year (via Toronto FC where he spent three seasons). Left back Roy Miller, another newcomer, has 14 caps for Costa Rica. Chris Albright is yet another newcomer but has yet to suit up for the team in an official game due to injuries. Albright received a share of caps last decade. Midfielder Dane Richards has been capped by the Jamaican national team. No member of the Red Bulls has been on a World Cup squad.

The team does have some exciting young players who could make the leap to national team at some point in the future. The most buzz right now is about Tim Ream, a rookie who is starting at centerback and doing very well. Seventeen-year old striker Juan Agudelo is highly-touted and has been capped by U.S. U-20 and U-17 sides, though he has not seen any first-team action yet.

Who is the New York Red Bulls’ primary rival?


At the time of this writing, the Red Bulls’ primary rival is DC United. This dates back to the league’s first season, when the two clubs faced each other in the playoffs. However, the arrival of an expansion team in Philadelphia could change this dynamic, given the long history of animosity between New York and Philadelphia teams in other sports. It just so happens that the Red Bulls face Philadelphia twice in three days’ time later this month, both times at Red Bull Arena: on April 24 in an MLS game and April 27 for the aforementioned US Open cup encounter.

A brief history of the New York/New Jersey Metrostars/Red Bulls


The only thing you really need to know about the history of the team is that it was not very successful. That and it changed identities. Okay, so that’s two things.

For the first 14 years of its existence the New York/New Jersey MLS franchise (for lack of a better identifier) played its home games at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. It was certainly not the first soccer team to do so–older fans in the area can surely remember Pele’s New York Cosmos packing this very arena in the 1970s and there have also been a plethora of international games on the site since. But the Cosmos moved out when they could no longer draw the huge crowds. The MLS franchise was placed in Giants Stadium with the understanding it would move to a soccer-specific site within a few years. Those “few years” turned out to be 14 and the team had nowhere to go in the interim. An entire volume could be written about the trials and tribulations that finally led to the stadium’s construction but in the interest of brevity we won’t go there.

The main point is that for 14 years the team struggled on the field and at the gate. It averaged little more than 10,000 spectators per game (which at Giants Stadium seemed like 10). The plastic field with its football yardlines was not conducive to soccer, least of all the type of soccer that should attract and convert fans. The team’s successes were very few and very, very far between: Basically a bunch of preseason trophies and one unlikely appearance in the 2008 MLS Cup.

The Red Bull sell-out takeover


In 2006, Austrian energy drink company Red Bull AG took over the team and changed its entire identity to be one giant billboard for its product. More than a few fans walked away in disgust. Most of the rest stuck around because there were no other options for topflight professional soccer in the area. Just about everybody felt weird about the metamorphosis. A lot of that has dissipated in the last four years, but some fans can still be heard substituting the word “Metro” or “Metros” for Red Bulls when chanting their support for the team.

Whatever its flaws, there is no debating that Red Bull came through huge in one area: the stadium (named Red Bull Arena, natch). The company built the entire $200 million structure with its own money after seven years of legal and bureaucratic wrangling. The results are as impressive as they are long-awaited. You’ll see so for yourself, if you haven’t already.

Supporters Groups


There have always been a few hundred diehards who model themselves after European supporters groups at Metros/Red Bulls games. In the beginning, MLS didn’t really know what to do with them but by now clubs just about everywhere have come to embrace the “supporter group culture” (not least of all because they are the primary customers).

The Empire Supporters Club is the oldest and largest.

Garden State Supporters are relatively new and as the name suggests dedicated to fans from New Jersey.

Raging Bull Nation is dedicated to the younger set.

There may be a few others on the fringes. We will update the page when and if we learn more about them.

News sources, blogs, podcast


Other than this one, which we are biased toward for obvious reasons, be sure to check out Metrofanatic.com. The site, which kept its pre-takeover name and still refers to the team by such, is a treasure trove of information, most of it exclusive. From statistics, player ratings (which readers vote for themselves), historical features and a lot more, MetroFanatic really has it all–including a message board that will be discussed later.

MetroFanatic is the deepest resource for information on the team and does a fine job with its own reporting, but there are other sources of original content that deserve your attention:

There’s BigAppleSoccer.com, run by New York Daily News soccer writer Michael Lewis. The site is not exclusively Red Bulls but covers virtually all levels of local soccer, though the MLS team is its primary focus.

SoccerByIves started as a Metro/Red Bulls site but has since morphed into a broader U.S. and international soccer page. It still has plenty of Red Bulls scoops however.

New York Post soccer writer Brian Lewis has a blog, Soccer: Extra Time that also has excellent exclusive stories.

So does Stefan Bondy of NorthJersey.com.

The New York Times’ Goal blog has regular coverage of the team as well, interspersed with items from Europe and elsewhere.

You can always head over to MLSsoccer.com for the Red Bulls official page. The team also has an official blog, Red Bulls Reader. Just don’t expect to read anything controversial.

Plenty of team-specific blogs are out there, including The Offside’s, MLS Talk’s, The Kin of Fish, The Viper’s Nest and Once a Metro.

Also this year there is a new podcast dedicated to the team. Seeing Red! The New York Soccer Round-Up is co-moderated by Nathaniel Baker, this site’s primary content producer.

Also MLS Talk’s Daniel Feuerstein has a podcast whose main focus is the New York Red Bulls.

Message boards and Twitter


There are just two that are open to the public (ESC members have their own) but they’re likely all you’ll need for now. For newcomers, we recommend heading over to BigSoccer’s Red Bulls forum. MetroFanatic’s board is better-trafficked these days but also involves a higher level of discourse (for lack of a better term). Unless you’re willing and able to debate the merits of, say, putting Jeremy Hall at right midfield versus left midfield from his current position of right back, we recommend that you do some extensive lurking before you post.

Most beat reporters and bloggers have their own Twitter accounts (so does this page of course): @BigAppleSoccer, @SoccerByIves, @NYPost_Lewis, @JackBell (NY Times), @daveredbulls (The Offside), @markfishkin (KinOfFish), @DFeuerstein (Daniel Feuerstein), @EmpireSC and of course @NewYorkRedBulls.

Tickets


You can get them online at the team’s official page or through any of the myriad ticket brokers out there or by calling up 1-877-RB-SOCCER. You can probably get them at the stadium box office most games. Tickets are cheap–dirt cheap when compared to other New York-area sports teams. In fact, you can get a season ticket to Red Bull Arena for less of the price of any single game New York Yankees tickets!

Transportation


Unless you have specific reason for doing so (you or your party include young children, handicapped persons or the elderly, for example) you really should not drive to games. Traffic is a nightmare in Harrison and parking even more so. You’ve likely heard the horror stories at this point. The good news is Red Bull Arena is directly on the PATH line. From New York, get on at World Trade Center to go direct, without transfers, in about 20 minutes (add about five to 10 to get from the station to the stadium). You can also take the PATH at 33rd and transfer. From points west, New Jersey transit will connect you through Newark Penn Station. There is also a trolley from Newark.

Some basic soccer (or futbol/football) terminology.


For whatever reason, sport terminology developed differently in Britain than it did in the U.S. (first example: we call it sports terminology, the sports section of the newspaper, etc. They use the singular). Even more mysteriously, U.S. soccer fans see the need to adopt the English terms, even though we (for the most part) continue to call the sport soccer. If you don’t know any of them, fear not. Simply refer to this handy guide to impress your friends.

In no particular order:
U.S. term → U.K./soccer language term
game → match
field → pitch
stadium → ground
cleats → boots
uniform → kit
fans → supporters
locker room → dressing room
coach → manager
offense → attack
speed → pace
out of bounds → into touch
sideline → touchline
endline → byline
fast break → break
one-on-one → breakaway
national team appearance → cap
center → cross
team → club or side
tie → draw
halftime → intermission
periods → halves
overtime → extra time
cover → mark
shutout → clean sheet
road team → away team or visitors
games played → appearances
healthy → fit or match-fit
final score → result
standings → table
practice → training

Other terms that might stymie you:
cup tie → a game, er, match that is part of a cup competition versus league play
back (including fullback, centerback, etc.) → defender
halfback → midfielder
sitter → an opportunity for scoring that absolutely needs to result in a goal
brace → two goals scored

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Red Bull New York statement re: PATH station (updated)

Posted on 15 May 2010 by ASN Staff

“There was a suspicious package found at the Harrison PATH train station which has caused delays to PATH service. The Port Authority Police Department and the Harrison Police Department are working together to resolve the matter.”

The team provided an updated statement after the match:
“Due to the presence of a suspicious package under the Harrison PATH station the PATH train service was suspended in both directions. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic were also restricted from accessing Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard. Approximately 7000 fans were delayed about one hour from entering Red Bull Arena.”

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The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 25 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Welcome to the fourth 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’ 2-1 defeat of Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon. To see an explanation of these terms (Good, Bad, Red, Dead) skip to the bottom of this page.

The Good:
A win is a win is a win is a win. Is a win.

Tim Ream. I picked on him for a play in the fourth minute of the match that, it turns out, was not his fault. On the play in question, Alejandro Moreno found Sebastien Letoux on a counter that really should have resulted in a goal but the Frenchman did not get any power or accuracy behind his one-timer. The play was caused by Dane Richards losing the ball after a corner. Roy Miller, not Ream, was responsible for picking up Le Toux. Mike Petke was caught way up the pitch and was late to recover. Jeremy Hall was a traffic cone. Moreno made a great play. All of the aforementioned are to blame before Ream was. The above realization came after watching the match a second time. Ream’s match rating has been adjusted.

Brian Nielsen should be a force for the Red Bulls ©Scott Marsh/ASN

Brian Nielsen could be an awesome player for the Bulls. He has pace and technical ability and is a natural left-footer–a rare commodity in world soccer. Much more so when you’re talking about a 23-year old. How he ended up here is still a bit of a mystery but we’ll certainly enjoy watching him for as long as he stays. It may just be a summer holiday though.

Salou Ibrahim broke out in a major way against Philadelphia. The goal speaks for itself but he was very active, particularly in the first half. His fitness does not appear to be quite up to par, but that can be easily changed. When it does, and he becomes more familiar with his teammates and their style of play, he could be a very dangerous player in this league. Especially with Angel drawing defenders away from him.

Danleigh Borman was terrific after entering the game for Roy Miller.

The Red Bulls supporter groups. There was a point after the equalizer that the game threatened to tilt in Philadelphia’s favor. Peter Nowak’s men were brimming with confidence and taking control of possession. It was at this point that the supporters became the most vocal. They simply didn’t let their team fall apart the way others in the past might would have. Let’s keep in mind that the Red Bulls are perfect in four home games, three of which were official MLS matches. The home field advantage is very real, despite a lackluster turnout from the local population at large. Speaking of which…

The Bad:
The attendance, or lack thereof. The turnout was simply disappointing. No other way to put it. Every variable was in place for this match to see a huge crowd: The weather was perfect, the team’s local rival were in town, there were few other options to watch a professional sporting event. The “this is Metro/Red Bull” excuse doesn’t hold much water either. It’s hard to imagine why people would care about what happened the preceding 14 years when there is a brand new soccer temple that has received nothing but rave reviews. You’d think local soccer fans, of which there are many (and not just Eurosnobs) would have used this opportunity out of sheer curiosity, if nothing else. Or did that happen already in the Santos match?

Roy Miller played poorly and almost single-handedly caused the equalizer by Philly.

Carl Robinson was atrocious. Hard to see what purpose he serves on this team and hard to believe Seth Stammler or Sinisa Ubiparipovic don’t present better options for Hans Backe.

Bouna Condoul showing up the coaches with his hand gestures and other body language (as well as vocally) when they decided to have Tim Ream take goal kicks. Fact: Condoul was barely reaching the center circle with some of these. But it’s irrelevant what their rationale is/was. It’s their decision, you may not like it, but you deal with it and do so in a way that doesn’t show them up. That’s just weak, man.

The Red:
Dane Richards. This guy just continues to drive you crazy. He’ll play a great ball square or into space for a teammate that results in a chance. Then he’ll lose the ball at an inopportune time and the opposing team will break down the field. Then he’ll actually try to cross a ball and be moderately successful, only to “pull a Dane” (put his head down and try to dribble through his man) the very next play.Just for good measure he’ll have a great defensive play, tracking back to make the tackle and launch the Red Bulls’ attack. The inconsistency is enough to drive you mad. I’m halfway there myself (quite a bit further than that, if some people are to be believed).

Why didn’t this team launch more attacks down the left flank to take advantage of Brian Nielsen? Not a rhetorical question. Keep in mind Nielsen was only part of one practice. After practicing with the team all week the Red Bulls attack should have an entirely different look. It had better…

Condoul is up to his old tricks, and I’m not talking about the goal kicks, which have already been discussed. His play on crosses is once again a danger to his team. At one point in the second half, it nearly caused a second equalizer by Philly. Together with his conduct on in-game coaching decisions (see “the bad”) could this result in a benching? Sutton will surely start the U.S. Open play-in game. Will he be given a chance to win the job with a good performance? Something to keep an eye on.

The Dead
Jeremy Hall is a lost puppy at right back. It’s becoming ridiculous. Check that: It’s been ridiculous. And this is not the first time we’ve made this point. It’s been over a year now and he still can’t play the position. Please put somebody else–anybody else, seriously–there and let Hall compete with Richards for the right midfield spot. Because besides everything else, Hall is a promising midfield talent. It isn’t fair to him to continue this.

Robinson shouldn’t start again either. Both Stammler and Ubiparipovic are better options for that position.


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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Juventus at RBA and the folly of catering to Eurosnobs

Posted on 20 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

As you may have heard by now, Juventus Turin will visit Red Bull Arena May 23 to play an exhibition match against the New York Red Bulls.

Judging by the reactions of the blog- and Twittersphere, local soccer fans are immensely excited about this. Red Bull has jacked up ticket prices for the event and is even making season ticket holders pay full charge. The team fully expects to sell all 25,000 tickets regardless. That noise you heard was the ka-CHING of cash registers in Salzburg (and probably Torino, too).

Personally, I don’t get all the hooplah. And that’s not because Juventus had a terrible season and are nowhere near as good as the elite teams in Europe. I’ve just never understood the allure of these exhibitions. The games don’t count for anything and the visiting team doesn’t play at full strength even when they do show up with their full ensemble of stars (which rarely happens anyway. See Robinho and Santos).

Speaking of Santos, the real allure of that event (for me at least) was Red Bull Arena. For a “grand opening” gala such as that one, exhibition matches are perfectly suitable. At midseason? Not so much.

Okay, so chalk that up to personal preference. If people are excited about a local soccer game, no matter the cause, that’s their prerogative. Besides, it really speaks to the sport’s growth in this country, which is undoubtedly a good thing, right?

Not quite. In fact, one can argue it’s not at all an indication of soccer’s growth, but the exact opposite.

Novelty acts like Juventus are exactly that: one-off events whose main intent is to generate cash. There’s nothing wrong with this, especially if it’s effective. The team can then use the money to market locally, invest in new players, etc. But an indication of true local interest it’s not–or at least no more than a 1951 Harlem Globetrotters game at the Vatican reflected clergical interest in professional basketball at the time. Nor is it likely to generate any kind of sustained interest in the team itself.

At least, that has been the pattern with previous exhibitions of this type. Red Bull Arena might change this equation a bit. Or not: Attendance at the team’s last home game against FC Dallas (13,667) was little more than half what it was for the Santos match (25,000).

These exhibitions are at best short-term solutions to generate a bundle of cash that can then be reinvested in the all-important “grass roots.” But like many short-term solutions, you can’t help but wonder about negative fall-out. In this instance, the Red Bulls and MLS may want to ask themselves whether they really want to cultivate an audience for a one-off event.

Most people who attend the Juventus match will have probably never seen the New York Red Bulls play in person (or on TV for that matter). The may never again, either. They could be from the “old country,” or perhaps just think they are (i.e. Eurosnobs). They may be genuinely curious in the sport but for whatever reason didn’t feel compelled to see games before (or perhaps didn’t know the option was even available). Or they may be young people who play the game on an organized level.

Sure, some of them might come back another time and maybe, just maybe, a few will become regulars. But this is unlikely, because MLS has few recognizable names or stars for them to latch on to. And American consumers generally can’t be bothered with a learning curve of this type, especially for a league that makes no secrets of being second-rate.

Even though the best U.S. players (with one exception) ply their trade overseas, MLS in many ways remains the ultimate yardstick of soccer’s progress in this country. That is true both of the level of play and the amounts of support the league receives. Regarding the latter, MLS today is very fragmented, with season ticket sales well into five figures in Toronto and Seattle, while franchises in Dallas, Colorado and Los Angeles (Chivas) are fortunate to break five figures at individual games.

Locally, the Red Bulls have averaged a gate of about 12,000 in their 14-year history. This year, it’s 19,333 after two games. This is obviously an improvement owing in no small part to Red Bull Arena. But the sample size is small. More importantly, attendance at MLS games trails international exhibitions in the area by a wide margin. This “spread” (financial jargon) will obviously be much smaller now in a stadium where attendance is capped at 25,000 versus at Giants Stadium, which fit 80,000.

Nevertheless, if the “spread” remains wide, or if one exists at all, it indicates soccer is still looked on mainly as an exotic diversion, not something that has truly been embraced by the public. And that’s where MLS needs to tread carefully. Ideally, they wouldn’t play these exhibitions at all. Eurosnobs and others would either continue the folly of supporting teams thousands of miles away, or would embrace MLS for MLS’ sake–not just because “their” team happens to be playing a local exhibition. This would allow a true grassroots to take root and flourish.

Obviously, that’s not realistic. These exhibitions are cash cows and teams on both sides of the Atlantic (or the Rio Grande) need to milk them. Unfortunately, this detracts from MLS’ long-term mission. It allows the league to pad its coffers from something that is literally foreign. That’s not a way to grow the sport in this country–at least not with the people that matter.

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Seeking: A nickname for Red Bull Arena

Posted on 16 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

What shall we call it? ©ASN

This question was posed in the most recent episode of the Seeing Red! podcast: What to call the New York Red Bulls’ soccer-specific stadium in Harrison, N.J.? Sure, the ground has an official name, Red Bull Arena. But what about an informal name, by which fans can refer to the place? Nothing against Red Bull AG (hey, they did build the place with their own money) but something less corporate is needed.

On the show I introduced several ideas, most of them laughable. I’ve narrowed that list down a bit here but would like to invite readers to submit their own. Simply do so via comment and if we like it I’ll add it to the poll. Simple!

[polldaddy poll=3064652]

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Maybe not 'must win' but stakes are high on two game road trip

Posted on 30 March 2010 by ASN Staff

A glance at the Major League Soccer schedule tells you that all teams have played one game. Two Eastern Conference teams, the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards, won theirs convincingly. The New York Red Bulls join them with three points from a less convincing win. Now the Red Bulls must leave the friendly confines of their new home ground and head west for a two game road trip at Seattle and Chivas USA.

“Must win roadtrip” may seen a little harsh at this early stage in the season, But make no mistake: The stakes are extremely high and the pressure is on the New York Red Bulls to get results.

The Red Bulls celebrate in front of a packed house. Will this continue to be the picture after the ensuing two game road trip? ©ASN/Scott Marsh

The Red Bulls enjoyed playing their first two games at Red Bull Arena in front of a packed house. The Santos game was an announced sellout and the Fire game fell just short, most likely due to the frigid temps that hit the area on game day. Red Bull marketing staff had months to put together ticket packages and an advertising blitz about the “stage being set.” Kudos to them for a job well done as the Red Bulls are riding high and are currently more than a blip on the New York sports radar–at least for now.

As the Red Bulls head west to face the Seattle Sounders, a team that embarrassed them on national TV to open the 2009 season, the ticket and marketing staff has three weeks to pack the house before the next game at Red Bull Arena. A strong showing on this road trip keeps the spotlight on the Red Bulls, and will most likely mean coming home to play FC Dallas and the expansion Philadelphia Union in front of a mostly or entirely (if the weather cooperates) full stadium.

However, should the Red Bulls falter, as they have had a habit of doing in recent years on the road, should they get embarrassed in Seattle and then have a mediocre showing in Los Angeles, the ticket and marketing staff will have their work cut out for them.

So the team desperately needs a strong showing on this swing. Ideally if the team can win both games and come back to Red Bull Arena with a 3-0 record, it may “set the stage” for a special season—the type of season that will get supporters buzzing about making plans to visit Toronto in late November. At minimum the Red Bulls need four points from this road trip to continue the buzz. A draw in Seattle and a win at Chivas would most likely fill Red Bull arena for all of April.

But a poor showing will find the Red Bulls returning to smaller crowds than they experienced in the first two games. Red Bull wants and needs a full house for every game, and the pressure will be on for everyone in the organization from players to ticket sales to make it happen.

Winning teams sell tickets, sell merchandise, sell advertising. Losing teams not named the Chicago Cubs do not. So now it will be interesting to see this road trip unfold. In three weeks’ time, will fans be packing Red Bull Arena with visions of MLS Cup in Toronto, or will we hear those dreaded words ‘Same old Metro’?

We’ll know in three weeks.

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Preseason over! But now the real work begins

Posted on 25 March 2010 by ASN Staff

New York Red Bulls midfielder Luke Sassano completed his second season with the organization in 2009. In this, his fourth guest column for ASN, he wraps up the final stage of the team’s preseason. Sassano’s other columns can be viewed here.

With the final whistle of the Santos game, the preseason has officially come to an end.
Three preseason trips, two snow storms avoided and an undefeated record; I would say that this preseason has been a success. But now the real work begins.

As exciting as the Red Bull Arena grand opening was, I have a feeling we can expect the same–perhaps even a more hightened atmosphere–this weekend against Chicago in the season opener. Winning against a team of the caliber of FC Santos felt great, but we know that the real business starts on Saturday. The confidence in the locker room is great; we really believe that we are building something special here. The support of the fans has been exceptional– we really do have the best fans in MLS.

The stage is set, the atmosphere is set, and the excitement is set as the season is starting on schedule. What a way to open Red Bull Arena! But that’s only the beginning of what we hope and are confident will be a successful season.

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