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The Red Bulls' playoff campaign: DOA?

Posted on 29 October 2008 by arozsa

The team before its last regular season home game

If you asked me a question about the New York Red Bulls hopes for the playoffs last Thursday night, how would I have responded? Perhaps an old friend of mine could sum it up for me.

The Red Bulls went 2-5-1 in their last eight games, giving up 18 goals in the process. Their starting goalkeeper, in fact the only goalkeeper on the roster with any MLS experience at all, is suspended until sometime around Memorial Day, 2009. Jeff Parke, oftentimes the only effective defender on this squad, joins him on his sojourn to the methadone clinic.

Jozy Altidore left for Spain midseason. Claudio Reyna is gone as well, and if he was checking his iphone for scores after checking his bank balance he would have noted his former club getting stomped by Chicago (again) in a nationally televised game.

Playoffs? Are you kidding me?

Indeed, thanks to the magic of rule tinkering, the Red Bulls and their 39 points take the place of the Colorado Rapids the Western Conference Playoffs, and get to extend their season with a home and home series against the MLS cup holders Houston Dynamo. Put the Red Bulls’ current form against the Texans 9-game unbeaten streak, and a first round exit seems nearly certain. That would leave New York with a nearly identical season to the one that got Bruce Arena canned.

If, at this point, you’d like to have a discussion on whether or not Bruce Arena got fired for unacceptable results, or because he was an arrogant jerk, by all means do so. Talk amongst yourselves. While you’re at it why not debate if Juan Carlos Osorio should suffer the same fate?

But before I get too carried away with my season obituary, it should be pointed out the Red Bulls have yet to actually be put out of their misery. Yes, the odds are stacked against them, but one only need look back to August 24th to find a 3-0 home trouncing of the defending champs. Dane Richards and Juan Pablo Angel, players Osorio actually still has at his disposal if he cares to use them, both found the back of the net as the Red Bulls jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it. Add Macoumba Kandji and the in-form Dave van den Bergh to the mix, and New York has the capacity to score some goals and make things interesting.

Obviously, the other end of the field is a different story. Danny Cepreo has only played a couple more games than I have in an MLS net. The backline issues are clear, especially when you consider that Toronto FC castoff Andrew Boyens has actually been the best defensive addition this season. Juan Pietravallo, who has been flying into tackles about as late as I’ve been showing up to the office lately, has inexplicably displaced Seth Stammler as the backline shield.

So is there really hope? As an adopted New Yorker, I’ve come to embrace the rather caustic approach to the sports teams of the area. Rest assured, now that they’ve seemingly lost the plot entirely, they will begin to play well again. But only long enough to make sure that it hurts a little bit more when they let you down.

ASN PREDICTION

The Red Bulls come out with some offensive punch, but defensive lapses kill the momentum. 2-2 in their home leg. Houston predictably dominates in Texas, finishes off the series with a 3-0 win.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. ???? Says:

    Very interesting; thank you for sharing!

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