Tag Archive | "Carl Robinson"

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The Good, The Bad, The Red, The Dead

Posted on 04 August 2010 by dkarell

This past week, with the spotlight on Texas, the Red Bull’s players put on a show. In the 2010 MLS All Star Game last Wednesday, Juan Pablo Angel had a solid 45 minutes in the first half before being substituted, and Thierry Henry made his MLS debut last Saturday in the match against the Houston Dynamo. In this 13th edition of the column, we will focus on the 2-2 draw with Houston, as well as the recent signing of Rafael Marquez.

The Good: With Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Angel finally together, the Red Bull’s attack was more dangerous than seen in quite some time. Henry assisted on both of Angel’s goals, and should have had two of his own, though his finishing was off all day. Expect to see plenty of goals with these two playing as strikers and providers for each other and their teammates. Also, the Red Bulls signed an unprecedented third designated player, Mexico captain Rafa Marquez, to a three and a half year contract, through the 2013 season. Marquez will shore up any potential chinks in the back line, and will most likely be played by coach Hans Backe in a defensive midfield role.

The Bad: Despite being up a man for the whole second half of the match against Houston, the Red Bulls were unable to hold their lead, or add to it. Juan Pablo Angel’s goal was a fantastic strike, but after that, despite close chances, the Red Bulls were unable to put any away, and they missed out on picking up more points on the Eastern Conference leading Columbus Crew, who lost over the weekend to Chivas USA. The Red Bulls are currently in second place, down seven points from the Crew, with a game in hand.

The Red: Before I wrote this article, I was going to say that the backline, and defensive focus was a big issue recently, but I think that Rafa Marquez will help shore that up. His leadership should help raise the games of his teammates, and hopefully he will provide the squad with plenty of possession. Hopefully this is also the end of the Carl Robinson experiment. He has been oft injured, and when playing, not looking very good on offense or defense. He is usually invisible during matches.

The Dead: Clint Mathis today announced his retirement today, saying that this weekend’s game between his Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Madrid will be his final match. Mathis was one of the first American super star soccer players, and his career in New York was nothing short of superb. Mathis played five seasons with the Metrostars/Red Bulls, finishing with 45 goals in all competitions, including five in one game against the Dallas Burn in 2000. The Red Bulls have announced they plan to make a tribute to his career.

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Thierry Henry will not be available for the Crew Thursday…

Posted on 18 May 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

…neither will Salou Ibrahim or Carl Robinson. Or for that matter Austin da Luz, who will miss six weeks with a “Jones fracture” on his left foot. This information courtesy of the New York Red Bulls official Twitter account.

So where does that leave us?

With very few options in attack, for one. Juan Pablo Angel will almost certainly start. Not that there was any doubt before. But who will be paired with him on the front line? John Wolyniec? Perhaps the most realistic alternative. Brian Nielsen? That experiment didn’t exactly go well against the Sounders. Conor Chinn? He’s behind the aforementioned on Hans Backe’s depth chart. Dane Richards? Don’t laugh, it could happen.

Of course the choice of a striker partner for Angel depends in no small part on the midfield lineup. Hopefully Backe has had enough of the Seth Stammler at left midfield experiment. Regardless, Stammler is more urgently needed to fill Robinson’s spot of holding midfielder at this point. Does that mean Nielsen starts at left mid? One would expect so given his “deer in the headlights” performance at forward on Saturday.

Stammler is by no means a shoe-in to start at holding midfielder, however. Tony Tchani has played well in the role recently, especially in his one start at San Jose. This one is an open question and I don’t suspect Backe himself has decided on it at this point.

What about right mid? From Dane Richards’ early substitution from the Sounders match it would appear that Backe is finally on to his (numerous) shortcomings. Whether that translates into a benching is an entirely different matter of course.

I think one can reasonably expect Backe to roll the dice with Jeremy Hall in right midfield, for the following reasons:

  • Hall has been a good soldier and deserves his chance to start at his preferred position
  • He played effectively at the position in last week’s U.S. Open Cup win over New England
  • An element of surprise or unpredictability is needed against the Columbus Crew. Hall provides a spark at the position that other options (Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Dane Richards) do not.

That would leave Wolyniec or perhaps Richards as Angel’s striker partner. But if Backe doesn’t like what he’s seeing from Richards at right midfield it is doubtful he would want him as a forward. Wolyniec is old reliable. You know exactly what you’re going to get. And he and Angel have trained and played together for more than three years.

Don’t expect Bouna Condoul to sit either, even though he probably should. Conor Chinn will likely make the bench along with Ubiparipovic, Stammler (if he doesn’t start), Tchani (if Stammler does), Carlos Mendes and perhaps Irving Garcia.

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Photo gallery: Sounders 1, RBNY 0

Posted on 16 May 2010 by ASN Staff

ASN photographer Scott Marsh was at the New York Red Bulls 1-0 defeat to the Seattle Sounders May 15 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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More ASN coverage of the match

Hans Backe’s postgame press conference audio

Mike Petke makes his feelings known on the match

Player ratings

Red Bull New York statement re: PATH station

Discuss the game on our forum, where you can also share your stories from the PATH fiasco.

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Player ratings: Sounders 1, RBNY 0

Posted on 16 May 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

The New York Red Bulls lost their first home game of the season Saturday night, succumbing to the Seattle Sounders by a 1-0 score. The decisive goal came in the 85th minute off the foot of Fredy Montero. It was an all-around disappointing performance by the Red Bulls, who despite what some players might say did not do enough to win. Here are the individual player ratings.

Bouna Condoul: 3
Sometimes you know after one play the type of game a player is going to have. Coundoul, whose psyche appears more fragile than others’ at times, is one of those players. (Why you want a guy like that tending your goal is another question entirely). Here the play in question came in the very first minute of play, when he handled the ball outside of the 18-yard box. Looked incredibly shaky on crosses and there was that one play where he was bailed out by Danleigh Borman. He’s taking his goal kicks now, but not to much improved effect. Can also fault him for being out of position on the goal, though Mike Petke is clearly the greater culprit. Well, him and the referee for calling the decisive free kick in the first place.

Jeremy Hall: 6
Actually seemed to keep Steve Zakuani in check. Or did Seattle not try to launch Zakuani? Hard to say, but give Hall credit for holding his ground when he was called on. Did little for the team’s attack, which can be expected with the confusion Richards and Angel were creating. But had a chance to make a cross late in the half and did so poorly, playing it long where only Kasey Keller could catch it. Was excellent late in the game. Something to build on, perhaps. Which is more than you can say about just about any of his teammates.

Mike Petke: 5.5
Largely solid until the deciding play of the game, though did not look good on a first half chance where Zakuani narrowly missed the far corner of the goal. But should have done a lot better against Montero on the goal. Of course that’s easier said than done; Montero was fresh, just 10 minutes after entering. Petke was tired. A fresh Petke might have made the play. And he’s what, 10 years older than Montero? Also Condoul did him no favors on the play.

Tim Ream: 6
Played his position well, did a good job cleaning up the Red Bulls’ defense, passed the ball well; in short it was the type of performance we have come to appreciate from the rookie. Went a long way toward proving the performance at San Jose was a fluke. Well done.

Danleigh Borman: 6.5
Was beaten by Nyassi several times in the first half and stumbled when he should have launched Angel right on the stroke of halftime. But terrific effort recovering a Condoul mishap early in the second half. And did well later in the second also, keeping the underwear model in check and largely shutting his side of the field down.

Dane Richards: 3
Few “Dane being Dane” moments (when he puts his head down and sprints to the endline) but that does not mean he had a good match. Far from it, in fact. Turned over a ball early on that led to a Seattle counter-attack that was broken up at the last moment by Borman probably getting away with a foul on the former underwear model. Later took a ball away from Robinson that the Welshman could have fired on (if not into) goal. Decision-making questionable or worse. Didn’t contribute anything to the team’s attack and didn’t do much for its defense either.

Carl Robinson: 5.5
His best game as a New York Red Bull. Positioned himself well, made some key tackles, even had a few nice passes. Others were badly taken, however and a few of these could have launched attacks had they been on the money. Also should have been more on the spot on the decisive free kick, but then it was a questionable call to begin with.

Joel Lindpere: 5.5
Had some excellent moments in the first half, then disappeared, only to resurface in the 70th minute when he dove trying to draw a penalty. Yes it was a dive, though there was a little contact. Having re-watched the play on video, I can now make a more definitive assessment than I made on Twitter. Would have liked to see more of him. This is a common complaint about the Estonian Express, though the formation in the second half seemed to confuse a lot of people, him included.

Seth Stammler: 4
Granted left midfield is not his preferred position, but this effort was insufficient. His offensive forays were frankly pathetic. But again: attacking is not his game. Have to question the decision to play him at this position in a home match. Surely there were better options, even if it meant moving Lindpere out there and starting, say Tony Tchani in Lindpere’s spot.

Salou Ibrahim: 3
Looked lost. What was with the breakaway in the first half where he held up to square the ball? Don’t you try to rush to goal in those situations? Didn’t do anywhere near enough before leaving the match shortly after halftime. Hopefully his injury isn’t serious. Otherwise we could be seeing John Wolyniec or Conor Chinn in his spot.

Juan Pablo Angel: 2
His mobility is about nil at this point, so why is he running all over the pitch? Showed up at very strange positions, which may have contributed to Ibrahim’s confusion (see above). Spent a lot of time complaining about service, but didn’t make any runs other than to track back into midfield where his presence was about as welcome as an illegitimate child at Easter dinner. Quickly turning into a pathetic figure, hobbling around with what appear to be backpains (or something) trying to direct traffic and complaining to refs and teammates alike. (In fairness he had some valid complaints, particularly with Dane Richards). But things are going to come to a head soon on this. They’re going to have to. More on that in the Good, Bad, Dead, Red column tomorrow.

Brian Nielsen: 5

Had a few good runs toward the end of the match but could have done a lot more. Obviously struggled to fit into the second forward spot and looked pathetic throwing himself onto the ground in search for a call. MLS refs are bad, but they aren’t that bad. And they’ll err on the side of playing on, too.

Sinisa Ubiparipovic: 4.5
Saw a lot of the ball after entering for Dane Richards, but did little with it. A few times made completely errant passes. Did have a nice cross that Nielsen should have done more with, however.

Tony Tchani: N/A

Did not play anywhere near enough (three minutes plus stoppage) to generate a rating.

More ASN coverage of the match

Hans Backe’s postgame press conference audio

Mike Petke makes his feelings known on the match

Photo gallery

Red Bull New York statement re: PATH station

Discuss the game on our forum, where you can also share your stories from the PATH fiasco.

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Robinson to start v Sounders

Posted on 15 May 2010 by ASN Staff

Carl Robinson ©Scott Marsh/ASN

Carl Robinson will start today’s match against the Seattle Sounders, ASN has learned. The Welchman will take the position in central field that he last occupied in the May 1 victory at DC United. Tony Tchani started in Robinson’s place against San Jose on May 8 and in the U.S. Open Cup victory over New England on May 12.

Elsewhere, Brian Nielsen is not likely to start at left midfield after playing 90 minutes in the U.S. Open Cup match. Expect Seth Stammler or Sinisa Ubiparipovic to get the nod at that position. The big question is who will start at right back. Jeremy Hall also played 90 minutes Wednesday and Chris Albright, who is recuperating from injury, went 62. The only other player with experience at that position, Luke Sassano, is banned after receiving a red card in the Sounders match.

Stammler, who could be another option at right back, did not practice at that position in training this week, according to ASN sources.

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The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 03 May 2010 by ASN Staff

Welcome to the sixth 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’ 2-0 defeat of DC United on Saturday–the team’s first win at RFK Stadium since 2005. To see an explanation of these terms (Good, Bad, Red, Dead) skip to the bottom of this page.

The Good
The team is firing on all cylinders. Things are clicking. Morale is high. Very high in fact. This is not just conjecture, but based on what I observed in the team’s RFK Stadium locker room after Saturday’s victory.

We haven’t said much about Hans Backe except to criticize him for not using all his subs in the season opener against Chicago. Some praise is due. Probably even a lot of praise. Keep in mind seven of 11 starters from this squad were on the team that managed five wins all of last season. Yet here we are six games in to the 2010 campaign and the Red Bulls have already matched their victory total from all of last year. Yes, Joel Lindpere and Tim Ream have made a big difference. But Salou Ibrahim and Carl Robinson? Not so much (though Ibrahim has played well). Clearly the coach deserves credit. Both coaches, actually. While Backe has undoubtedly done an admirable job, it makes Juan Carlos Osorio look like even more of a clueless lost cause. How he’s having success in Colombia is beyond me.

Dane Richards. I picked up on some signs of improvement in the FC Dallas game (when he was “good”). Philly was a step back (had him “red”) but he was terrific Saturday. In fact, he leads the man of the match poll and at this point is a favorite to be my “bull” of the week on this week’s Seeing Red! podcast. Yes, you heard correctly: I am singing the praises of Dane Richards. And guess what? He deserves it.

Juan Pablo Angel is creating chances and scoring goals. In the first half of Saturday’s game his “midfield work” was more a disruption than anything else, but in the second half it resulted in a goal. But this does not mean Angel is exempt from criticism either. More on that further down.

Seth Stammler had another strong game, this time at left midfield. With Brian Nielsen presumably starting in that spot at San Jose on Saturday, it means Stammler should start in Carl Robinson’s spot at holding midfield. But it may not happen. Backe seems to like Robinson, for whatever reason.

The Bad:
Robinson. Really hard to figure out why he continues to start. He can’t really control the ball, can’t pass it and can barely run the pitch.

Bouna Condoul still can’t play goalkeeper. He’s great at stopping shots though.

What’s going on with Roy Miller? He played poorly again. Seems to lack focus or something.

The Red:
Angel’s conversion ratio of goal chances is very poor. He could have had three or four Saturday.

Salou also had an egregious miss late in the second half.

The team was poor defensively in the first half. DC should have scored at least two or three goals. The Red Bulls continue to dodge bullets in this area; we saw the same thing in the Dallas and Seattle games and elsewhere. Eventually it’s going to catch up with them and one of these brainfarts is going to result in a goal. MLS strikers may not be great but they’re better than this.

The San Jose Earthquakes are playing well and there is reason to be apprehensive about that game.

The Dead:
Jeremy Hall’s sojourn at right back appears to be, at least for now. Chris Albright is eligible to return from the injured list in Saturday’s match. Unless Backe decides he isn’t match fit, Albright should start. With Dane Richards now playing a lot better, you don’t want to give that spot to Hall either. Maybe try him on the left side? No, too many other options there. If Albright starts, Richards keeps improving and everybody else stays healthy, it’s hard to find a spot for Hall in the starting lineup.

Tim Ream has likely taken his last goal kick for a little while. Coundoul is apparently ready to resume those duties, per Backe.


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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Player ratings: RBNY 2, DC United 0

Posted on 02 May 2010 by ASN Staff

The New York Red Bulls put in arguably their best (first team) performance of the season in a 2-0 win at DC United on May 1. It was the team’s first win at RFK Stadium since the 2006 “rebranding” and pushes its record on the young season to an impressive 5-1. Here are ASN’s player ratings for the match:

Bouna Condoul: 6.5
Once again excellent shot stopping. Twice robbed Clyde Simms, the second time (start of the second half) blind. But once again weak play elsewhere. Fortunately none of it was costly. One the whole, his excellent saves carry more weight in his rating, but it would be nice to see him learn to play the position at some point. He’s apparently ready to take goal kicks again, but didn’t do so due to a sore groin–a result of practicing goal kicks, conveniently enough. Also picked up a nasty bruise at the hand (or feet) of Adam Cristman. Showed it to me after the game; it was ugly. Apparently Cristman (whose ancestors clearly weren’t great spellers) did the same thing to Juan Pablo Angel. Didn’t catch that at the game or in the video but maybe somebody else did?

Roy Miller: 4.5
It was his poor clearance that forced Condoul’s best save of the day. Had a few other poor touches. Outplayed by Luciano Emilio on a late play that could have been costly. A quiet game, and not a good one. Would have liked to see him get more involved with the attack on a short pitch like RFK, especially when a defensive player, Seth Stammler, is starting at left midfield.

Tim Ream: 5
Caught out of position on one of the very first plays of the game that almost led to Cristman putting a shot on goal. Around the 15 minute mark he failed to pick up Simms’ overlapping run, though in fairness Mike Petke put him in a tough position of having to cover two men (see below). Not tested much in the second half, where he did much better.

Mike Petke: 6
Much better than the last two games, but his decision-making still leaves a bit to be desired. Case in point: The aforementioned play that nearly resulted in Simms scoring a goal. For reasons obscure he saved a ball played by a DC player from going into touch. Was then hopelessly out of position when it fell to Rodney Wallace who passed it to Kurt Morsink, who crossed it in to Simms, who on top of everything went unnoticed by Ream. Simms somehow managed to head a perfect ball directly at Condoul from about eight feet in front of goal. Also let Jaime Moreno behind him on a play in the second half, which nearly turned in to a goal. However, His passing was greatly improved. And he also did well defensively at other times, with strong tackles and decisive headers.

Jeremy Hall: 5.5
A tale of two halves. In the first, beaten time and again by his man (Castillo, usually). At least he had the presence of mind to commit fouls. His passing was also poor. Much better in the second half; outlet pass to Angel nearly led to a second Red Bulls goal moments after the first. Later passed an excellent ball to Danleigh Borman on an overlapping run that nearly led to (yet) another Angel goal. Better defensively too. Kept Moreno in check. What will happen now that Albright is eligible to return?

Stammler: 7
Was a pest on the left side, a place he had not started since 2006. Heads-up play almost led to a goal around the 30 minute mark of the first half. Passed the ball well and should have been rewarded with an assist but Angel shot a ball right at Perkins (this was in the first half just a minute or two after the previous play)

Robinson: 5
Turned the ball over constantly, or did something (errant pass) that led to it being turned over. But was well positioned defensively, which has to count for something. Okay, so it gives him a perfectly average rating.

Lindpere: 7
Was obviously not comfortable in the heat and consequently did not run as much as he normally does (which is probably more than any other player on the team). But provided excellent service to the forwards, and not just on Angel’s goal. There was an early free kick that was almost the exact mirror image of that play, except Angel headed it wide, and a second one that led to a corner. Also had some decisive tackles in midfield.

Richards: 8
Brilliant work on the first goal, which turned out to be the game winner. Did well otherwise. Saw him track back defensively to pick up a DC player on the completely opposite end of the pitch. Much better decision-making as well. Made the smart, short passes, other than try to win a sprint to the endline. Should have had a second assist but Ibrahim blew the header from point blank range. His best game of the season, by far.

Juan Pablo Angel: 6.5
Hans Backe claimed he was the high target man, so why was he distributing the ball from midfield? Interestingly enough, he did quite well in this role. Exhibit A: The winning goal. The flick header that doubled this advantage was brilliant as well. But probably should have scored two or three more. The old Angel (circa 2007 vintage) would have. It may be time to accept that player is gone now. But so what if he keeps scoring and setting up goals?

Salou Ibrahim: 7.5
The goal was excellent and demonstrated footwork skills of a much smaller man. Was otherwise pretty quiet but so what if he got on the scoresheet? With strikers that’s often all that matters. And frankly, you don’t see plays like in this league very often. Probably few MLS players would have been able to put the ball in the net on that play (and those who were, are likely much shorter guys). But we have to fault him on the second half header, which he really should have buried.

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More coverage of the match:

Initial report and reaction
Hans Backe’s postgame press conference
Petke: ‘I can’t get over the fact that we’re 5-1’
Photo gallery

Discuss the match in the new forum! No registration necessary! Your Facebook/Twitter/Gmail/Yahoo or other account gets you in!

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The march to D.C. is on!What to expect from this weekend's sojourn?

Posted on 30 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

After an interlude of wintry weather, spring is back in full force for this weekend’s game at RFK Stadium, where the New York Red Bulls take on archrivals DC United (sorry Philly. Maybe after you take a point from us?) A sizable contingent of New York fans will make the trip to the nation’s capital, hoping to see their team continue its hot start. Almost equally important, of course, is the task of prolonging DC’s miserable 0-4 start to the MLS regular season.

On paper, the Red Bulls should be the clear favorites–even though DC looked good defeating FC Dallas in their mid-week U.S. Open Cup match. Hans Backe’s team is off to its best-ever start and earlier this year proved it can win on the road with a 1-0 win at Seattle Sounders FC.

But two things speak against New York’s role as favorites. First off, this is MLS. What is a truism in nearly every other league in the world–that on any given matchday any team can win its game–is cold, hard fact in this league. Certainly home field advantage and injuries play their role but for all intents and purposes it’s a crapshoot. Flip a coin and it’s likely to be a better indicator of any prediction.

Second, while the Red Bulls’ record is indeed stellar, every one of its wins has come by a one-goal margin. In at least one or two of those (Chicago, Dallas) New York was not even the best team on the pitch. Its one impressive victory came with a side made up mainly of reserves.

Also, we’ve been here before. The Red Bulls entered their match with Chivas USA in similar circumstances; that is, New York was flying high and Chivas were still seeking their first win and frankly looking rather clueless doing it. We all know what happened. Chivas didn’t play particularly well, but New York did play particularly poorly, especially at one position (you know who you are, Bouna Condoul) before losing 2-0.

Lest we forget, the Red Bulls have never won at RFK since, well, ever. (It’s true the team’s last win at RFK came when they were the MetroStars). And Luciano Emilio will be available to come off the bench for DC United. He may even start. With him and Jaime Moreno, DC are a different foe.

From Hans Backe’s side, expect the identical starting lineup to the first Philly game, though there is a slight chance Seth Stammler or Tony Tchani could take Carl Robinson’s place as holding midfielder. Both played very well in the US Open Cup win, while Robinson was very poor in his last start. Then again, Backe has been impervious to lineup moves for reasons other than injuries so unless Robbo has reaggravated his injury, don’t count on it.

Frankly, a lot probably hangs on Juan Pablo Angel’s form and fitness. The former Aston Villa man has not been himself since the vicious tackle by Julian de Guzman in the preseason. If Angel is anything close to full strength, it could be a long day for United and their fans. If not, a hobbled JPA could seriously disrupt the flow of the team’s attack. It will also be interesting to watch Salou Ibrahim in his second regular season start. The Ghanaian played very well against Philly and there is reason to expect even better things from him against DC.

Despite all this, I optimistically predicted a 3-1 victory in the most recent Seeing Red Episode. What’s yours?

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Backe: Bulls need better control in midfield

Posted on 26 April 2010 by cwilliams

The Red Bulls have a problem and head coach Hans Backe understands what it is: Lack of control at midfield.

Although the Red Bulls won 2-1 against Philadelphia Union on Saturday, victory was the result of a penalty. Team captain Juan Pablo Angel scored the winning goal after Union defender Michael Orozco was called for a hand ball in the box.

And the Bulls’ won their previous match, against FC Dallas, on a penalty as well, in the 90th minute of the game. In fact all of the teams’ wins this season were decided by one goal.

“Our recent games have been close calls—-all of them,” Backe said. “If this pattern keeps up, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.”

Backe has reason for concern. Although the team’s won-loss record so far this season stands at 4-1, with the team picking up 12 of a possible 15 points in the last few games, a lot of luck has been part of the action.

For the Red Bulls to win two of two games on penalties just isn’t cutting it for Backe who is clearly a strategist.

“I’m seeing too many plays resulting in ‘end-line to end-line’ movement of the ball instead of the players controlling it up the field,” Backe said.

The Swede is not one to call out his players through the press, but you can’t help but feel Carl Robinson, who started at holding midfielder against Philadelphia, might have been at least a partial target of his comments. Robinson received a low (some say too low) 3/10 rating for his play but appeared to be struggling with the injury that had him miss the first few games of the season.

More midfield control is what Backe is after and he may shuffle the lineup soon to get it. Tomorrow night’s U.S. Open Cup match against Philadelphia Union could serve as Jeremy Hall’s audition for the right midfield spot. Chris Albright is due back from injury and expected to start at right back, where Hall has started all five games this season. Backe said he would consider starting Hall at right mid for the U.S. Open Cup game.

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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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