The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 19 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Welcome to the third 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’ lucky (yeah it was) win over FC Dallas on Saturday evening. To see an explanation of these terms (Good, Bad, Red, Dead) see last week’s issue or read the bottom of this page.

The Good:
Luck, fortune, happenstance; whatever you want to call it. The Red Bulls’ changing fate has buried, at least for now, the “same ol’ Metro” talk. Fact is, last year’s team would not have won any of the three games the Red Bulls did this season. It probably wouldn’t have even taken a point. Sometimes, you’d just rather be lucky than good. This team certainly deserves being on the other side of luck ledger after everything it endured the past 14 seasons.

Bouna Condoul. It’s been said before in this space: As a shot-stopper, Condoul is one of the very best in the business. It’s the play away from his line that gets him into trouble. There were a few hairy moments on Saturday night, but these were very limited (which doesn’t make them any less fatal, of course). Condoul also did several things right on crosses. And nobody is downplaying his saves in the second half; these flat-out kept Red Bull in the game. No surprise that he led our player ratings with an unprecedented (for this season at least) 9/10. What’s particularly impressive is that Condoul looked confident almost immediately after making his first big save. You need to have a short memory as a goalkeeper and there was a lot of fear last week that Bouna’s psyche could be damaged from his gaffe against Chivas. Now, the concern is that he’ll be overconfident!

Juan Pablo Angel. He’s still not his full self, but no question he improved vastly over the team’s first three games. You’ve got to give him credit for not only stepping up and taking the second penalty, but also converting it (speaking of short memories). JPA simply has ice in his veins, which is exactly what you want from an elite striker. And Angel is still in that category.

Dane Richards. I’ve been one of Richards’ harshest critics. Just last week I called him “deplorable…simply not starter material” and said he “has no business taking the field with the starting 11.” This week I’m willing to at least back off that a bit. Richards had a good game vs. Dallas. His passing was crisp, his crosses were on target and his defensive work was very commendable. Only a few times did he “pull a Dane” of putting his head down and trying to win a sprint to the byline. It was his cross to Kandji that led to the first penalty and he very nearly assisted on what should have been a goal by Kandji. Obviously, a lot more is going to be required if we can begin to talk about Richards having turned the corner, but at least it’s something to build on.

Joel Lindpere played a stellar match as well. The assist to Angel was a thing of beauty, but he was front and center at other points too, even defensively.

The Bad
The whole backline had a subpar game. Even Tim Ream was beaten on a few plays close to goal. Mike Petke’s turnover led to Dallas’ goal and he nearly caused several others as well. Roy Miller did many things right but was beaten several times by Atiba Harris. It appears this guy is weak in the air.

But the worst one of all was Jeremy Hall–by far. The second-year player just isn’t a defender. He had some good games last season but for whatever reason nothing seems to be clicking in 2010. Time to move him back to a midfield position. Except, with the impending acquisitions of Brian Nielsen and Luke Rodgers, the midfield is becoming increasingly crowded. Once Chris Albright comes back, Hall’s days as a starter may be numbered anyway. At that point he could become buried in the depth charts.

Salou Ibrahim was next to invisible. He had a golden opportunity to open the score off a Roy Miller cross but wasn’t even able to direct it goalward.

The Red
Speaking of days being numbered, Hans Backe said in the postgame press conference that Nielsen could play forward in addition to left wing, which could mean the end of John Wolyniec’s days with the club. Woly didn’t even dress for Saturday’s match.

Kandji may end up following him out the door. He wasn’t terrible against Dallas, but did very little in terms of creating chances for his team. It just looks like there isn’t a natural position for this guy. Or at least not in MLS.

The Dead
Jeremy Hall at right back. Please. End. It. Now.

Mac Kandji at left wing. It’s been tried more than one time. It hasn’t worked.


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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