Categorized | Game Previews

Can New York do the unthinkable?

Posted on 14 November 2008 by arozsa

Where to begin?

There really isn’t a need to paraphrase Mark Twain when historically relevant cultural phenomena of some sort aren’t being discussed. I mean, we’re already talking about sports, do we really need any extra clichés thrown in?

However, it is worth mentioning that I, along with a healthy portion of other writers in the New York area and beyond, for all intents and purposes wrote an obituary for the New York Red Bulls last week.

Perhaps you’re wondering how well a Red Bull Cola washes down some fresh crow? Well keep on wondering, because last I checked, it wasn’t on the menu. It was no secret that the Red Bulls were the prohibitive underdog going down to Houston. But I cannot recall reading a single piece of copy anywhere, present company included, that didn’t treat this game like anything other than a foregone conclusion. If anyone out there actually predicted that Metro, the perennial whipping boy, the unlovable loser of MLS, would limp into Houston and beat the league’s crown jewel in front 30,000 orange-clad faithful, I would question their mental stability even now, with the result in plain view.

Logic is pulling me in the direction of continued pontification on how bizarre and unlikely this scenario was. Like lamenting the midseason subtractions of USA internationals past and present, or the possibility at bumping into half the starting rearguard while hitting up the GNC store at Jersey Gardens Mall, or how not one, but four of Juan Carlos Osorio’s midseason signings found themselves planted firmly on the bench at game time.

Honestly though, logic has been off its game of late. If it knew what it was doing at all, I certainly wouldn’t be writing a Western Conference Final preview.

So after spoiling the party for Real Salt Lake with a 1-1 draw at the opening of their new stadium back in October, New York finds themselves right back in Utah for an attempt at an encore performance.

As to be expected, the going won’t be easy. Jason Kries, once steward to a side that had lengthy droughts in front of the net, suddenly has a plethora of attacking options available. Spearheading the effort is the suddenly unstoppable frontrunner Yura Movsisyen, whose pace, power and clutch goal scoring surely has Bob Bradley inquiring about his citizenship status. It was Movsisyan who scored the lone goal for RSL in their 2-1 loss at Giants’ Stadium back in September, and he really should have added to his tally on the night as he was repeatedly victimizing the Red Bull’s backline.

Pulling the strings behind Yura is playmaker and one-time MVP candidate Javier Morales, who continues the trend of outstanding Argentine attacking midfielders in MLS. Livewire Canadian Will Johnson has added a dangerous new dimension to this side with his blistering shooting from range. With Robbie Findley, Clint Mathis, Andy Williams and newly healthy Fabian Espindola all in tow, RSL has firepower to spare.

So what does Osorio have up his sleeve? How does he solve a rugged RSL backline, keep Movsisyan under wraps and deny Morales time on the ball? How does he prepare a historically awful road team to take the life out of a crowd and a team that are making their first playoff run in a brand new stadium? Logic would tell you that even Osorio, the master tinkerer himself, would consider the best result in team history and think, “let’s not change a thing.”

We’ve seen how logic works lately, right?

No matter what lineup New York puts out there, and heaven only knows what it will be, as long as Dane Richards and Juan Pablo Angel are part of it, New York will have two distinct advantages that it will look to exploit. Neither Robbie Russell, Ian Joy, or anyone else RSL may trot out at left back has any desire to chase Richards up and down the flank all night, and Jamison Olave is the kind of excitable center-half that Angel will be toying with from the opening whistle.

Will it be enough to push the Red Bulls over the top? Considering their recent inability to deal with Movsisyan, their still woeful away record and their irrational fear of bagpipes, the answer is probably a resounding “no.” But, as the Red Bulls surely know by now, the games get played on the field. Period.

Any reports otherwise are greatly exaggerated.

ASN Prediction:

New York 2, RSL 1 (if New York scores first)
RSL 2, New York 0 (if Real Scores first)

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