The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 05 April 2010 by ASN Staff

ASN’s newest feature constitutes a critical look back at the last New York Red Bulls match. In this case: Saturday’s 1-0 win at Seattle Sounders FC.

A quick 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.

Ready? Here we go!

The good, the dead, the red, the dead: Week 2

The Good:

Kandji got the game-winner and did well Saturday ©Scott Marsh/ASN

Believe it or not, the team’s attack. Passing was crisper, runs were better and set pieces were a lot more elaborate. You could tell this had been the focus of the previous week’s practices. The Red Bulls dominated the first 20 minutes of play and Macoumba Kandji’s goal was the just reward. Speaking of Mac, he looked much more comfortable than he did against Chicago. As much as we all want him to be a traditional striker, perhaps Kandji’s best role is as a withdrawn forward.

Roy Miller had a strong game, particularly in the second half when he shut his part of the field down.

Sinisa Ubiparipovic also played well, some early jitters notwithstanding.

The bad:
The defense and goalkeeping. Yes, we are picking on this even though the team “pitched a shutout” as it were. The marking was pretty weak and the defense seemed disorganized. Sounders players had way too much space and were at times completely unmarked (see Ljungberg, Freddie late in the second half). The passing in the defensive third was not always precise either.

Also what’s with the new coaching staff not using all their subs? Especially in close games? Isn’t that just asking for trouble? Richie Williams should have gone to his bench far, far earlier on Saturday.

The red
Bouna Condoul’s play away from his line is going to give some Red Bulls fan a heart attack before too long.

Juan Pablo Angel. Second game in a row he has been almost completely absent (other than to complain about bad or insufficient service). Are we witnessing the twilight of his career?

Jeremy Hall at right back is begging to get exploited by a smart coach or skilled left wing.

Hans Backe’s health. Or should we say “health”? Call us paranoid, but it simply doesn’t make much sense for a head coach to miss a game for an upset stomach. Either his health is worse than the team is letting on, or Backe is entertaining offers to join his old boss Sven-Goran Eriksson on the Ivory Coast national team.

Overconfidence by fans, players and press. Obviously ASN does not fall in this category (if anything we’re overly negative. It’s a dirty job but somebody needs to do it). But already message boards are aflutter with talk of playoffs and conference championships. Unfortunately, the situation in March-April 2010 is only slightly different from where the team found itself in November 2008, when a strong showing at Houston and lucky win at Real Salt Lake gave it an unexpected berth in the MLS Cup final. We’re not saying a 2009-type meltdown is in store (the home advantage provided by Red Bull Arena alone will simply not allow it) just that we should all take the advice of Harvey Keitel’s character in Pulp Fiction: to not get ahead of ourselves (that’s a paraphrase).

The dead
It may be a bit premature considering it’s just the second game of the season, but Dane Richards really doesn’t seem to have the skills or wherewithal to play in MLS. Actually, scratch that; it’s not premature. This is Richards’ fourth season, which constitutes more chances than anybody else gets in a lifetime. R.I.P. Dane. Yeah he’ll pull something out of his hat on choice occasions (as he did vs. Santos or in the 2008 postseason) but those moments are too few and too far between. With a $200K-plus salary he needs to be a faster learner. Cut him loose and use the cash on somebody else.

Jens Lehmann to RBNY rumors. Please end them once and for all. Even though this team could use another keeper (or two?) a 40-year old German has-been with anger control issues (or something) is not the answer, even for part of a season. There is an abundance of U.S. talent at the goalkeeper position. Bring some of those guys in and give them a chance if they show promise with the “reserves” (quotation marks due to the fact that they do not officially exist, at least not yet).

8 Comments For This Post

  1. Wes C. Says:

    Kudos Nate for criticizing our defense. I love praising Ream and Petke whenever it's warranted, but they were average at best Saturday.

  2. whoshotsam Says:

    Overly negative doesn't begin to describe it. We did win, right? Or did I fall asleep and imagine it all? Not many teams are going to walk out of Qwest with points – we did. Two tough games behind us and six points in the bag. Definitely room for improvement in several areas, but this match report makes me want to slit my wrists.

  3. ASN Editorial Says:

    haha well thanks for the honesty. Just for sake of explanation, I wasn't trying to be negative. This was my honest reaction. Plus there are any number of glowing reports out there. If you want positive spin, go to Red Bulls Reader. I know you weren't telling anybody to be unobjective but here's the thing: Soccer is not a statistical sport. The best team doesn't always win the game. Results only tell part of the story. A small part. Yes the team has good results so far. But my point of this exercise was to point out that it won't necessarily continue winning (especially away from home) if it doesn't address some of these issues.

  4. whoshotsam Says:

    Yeah I understand. As I sat there in the stadium on Saturday I kept waiting for the Seattle equalizer. I was shocked that it never came. Part of it was good defending, part of it was Seattle's poor finishing and another part was dumb luck. We do have a lot of stuff to work on but the biggest problem we had last season IMO, lack of organization, seems to be a thing of the past. We are now through an entire pre-season and two games of the regular season and have yet to lose. That's proof enough for me that something fundamental has changed. From here on out I think it's going to be a matter of having the right talent rather than having players understand and execute the system.

  5. ASN Editorial Says:

    Well you're right about one thing: Something fundamental has indeed changed with this team. I think I can tell you what it is, too: Red Bull Arena. That and Hans Backe. The players simply seem to give a damn now and that can make all the difference in the world in games like this. I'm not saying Seattle didn't care, but perhaps just that the Bulls wanted it more. And that is indeed something to build on and I absolutely should have mentioned it in “The Good” section.

  6. Daniel Says:

    You negative creap. πŸ˜›

  7. ASN Editorial Says:

    Well you're right about one thing: Something fundamental has indeed changed with this team. I think I can tell you what it is, too: Red Bull Arena. That and Hans Backe. The players simply seem to give a damn now and that can make all the difference in the world in games like this. I'm not saying Seattle didn't care, but perhaps just that the Bulls wanted it more. And that is indeed something to build on and I absolutely should have mentioned it in “The Good” section.

  8. Daniel Says:

    You negative creap. πŸ˜›

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