Tag Archive | "Dane Richards"

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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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Photo gallery: RBNY 2, FC Dallas 1

Posted on 18 April 2010 by ASN Staff

ASN photographer Scott Marsh was at the New York Red Bulls 2-1 triumph over FC Dallas April 17 at Red Bull Arena. For more coverage of the FCD match check our player ratings.

A few of our favorite photos 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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RBNY 2, FC Dallas 1: Player ratings, man of the match

Posted on 18 April 2010 by ASN Staff

You’ve read the match report and had a morning to reflect on what was a highly improbable New York Red Bulls victory. Now check out the player ratings. All 11 starters are rated, including those who barely registered (you know who you are Salou Ibrahim). The man of the match was easy: Bouna Condoul. We’ll start with him:

Bouna Condoul: 9
If it weren’t for Atiba Harris’ second-half header off the crossbar (Condoul was caught off his line on that play was very nearly punished) there would be little to keep him from a perfect score. Several saves from point-blank range were world class but his play away from his line was greatly improved as well. So were his goal kicks, for that matter. A stellar performance. If he can continue to develop his position (i.e. non shot stopping) play there’s really nothing keeping this guy from becoming one of the great goalkeepers.

Jeremy Hall: 3
A sieve at right back. Hopeless at times against Harris and Heath Pearce and later Eric Avila. His overlapping runs went nowhere (and not because Richards didn’t pass to him. They simply weren’t timed very well). Did not always recover in times from these runs either. A few times this was almost fatal. Bottom line: This guy is a major liability at right back. It took a world class performance from his keeper, and a lot of luck, to keep him from costing the team the game. Next time they won’t be so lucky. When is Chris Albright eligible?

Mike Petke: 5
Way too many mistakes, both in committing turnovers, poor first touches (one of these in fact led to the McCarty goal) and blown defensive assignments. In fairness he had to cover for Hall several times, which could not have been easy. And did well deflecting or clearing a few balls into the box. But overall a disappointing performance. Hopefully it was a one-off.

Tim Ream: 6
Let Cunningham get behind him on a play in the second half that would have been a goal had it not been for Condoul. Also some of those long balls end up going nowhere (though a few are pretty impressive). But very strong at other times. Even covered Petke on some of his mistakes. Isn’t that supposed to be the other way around?

Roy Miller: 6
Generally very strong on both sides of the ball. A steadying influence on defense and skilled at settling the team when it had the ball in its own third. Offensively had many good ideas and well-timed overlapping runs. Should have had an assist in the first half but Ibrahim whiffed on his cross. But it was he who was beaten on Harris’ header off the crossbar and Harris also beat him to a headball later. There’s not really an excuse for that.

Dane Richards: 7
His best game of the regular season by far. Sure there were a few “Dane Richards” moments, but these were by and large limited to the first half. A strong performance defensively; bailed out Hall (who clearly needed the help) a number of times. Had some very good passes into space and even a few terrific crosses, such as the one that led the the Red Bulls first penalty. What’s this? Dane Richards crossing the ball? To effect? Believe it. Of course in the past three years every time Richards looked like he was on the verge of breaking out he relapsed into the Dane Richards of old in the next performance. But something to build on, clearly.

Seth Stammler: 5
Had some nice tackles but when the opposing team attacks and creates as many chances as FC Dallas did in the first 10 minutes you’ve got to look at your defensive midfielder. And where was Stammler, when he should have been providing leadership and a calming influence to the back four? Ball watching a few times, caught out of position at others.

Joel Lindpere: 8
His best game since Chicago. His energy and work rate were terrific. Great play on the equalizer. Wouldn’t be surprised if he led the team in touches. Also helped out a lot defensively with some key tackles.

Macoumba Kandji: 5.5
Did a few things well. His passing was generally strong (it was he who launched Lindpere on the tying goal) with a few glaring exceptions, telegraphing passes etc. On the whole, didn’t do enough and turned the ball over too much. Also had a few chances he should have done better with. Brian Nielsen, whoever he is, is sorely needed.

Salou Ibrahim: 3
If his name wasn’t on the game sheet you wouldn’t know he was in the game at all. Almost completely invisible. Had one solid chance in the first half that was not due to his work (but Roy Miller’s). Hans Backe said he was tired. Whatever it was, he needs to change it, pronto, or there’s no use in starting him. Or playing him at all for that matter.

Juan Pablo Angel: 6.5
Much, much better from the team’s star and I’m not even talking about the goals. His first touch was much better, he seemed to have more energy and better mobility than in the previous three games. The first goal looked easy but it required vast amounts of skill and guile to find the seam in the defense, notice that the goalkeeper was cheating toward one side, and then send the ball into the opposite corner on a one-timer. That’s why this guy gets paid the big bucks and that’s why the team needs him in the lineup even when he’s not at full strength. Also showed nerves of steel on the second penalty. So why doesn’t he get a better rating? Not because of the first penalty; sure, it could have been taken better but Sala really pulled a rabbit out of his hat with the save. The reason is he just isn’t JPA yet; not only is he tentative (though less so) but also wanders around weird parts of the pitch (such as defensive midfield) at strange times. Also he’s still very weak on the ball and this resulted in numerous turnovers, particularly in the first half.

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The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 12 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Welcome to the second 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’ first loss of the season, at Chivas USA on Saturday afternoon. 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
Tim Ream and Roy Miller. And we’re done. The left half of the Red Bulls’ back line did what they’ve been doing since day one, which is eliminate any chance of an attack. Both goals came on lackadaisical play by the right side defenders (and of course the goalie. More on him in a bit).

What is going on with JPA? ©Scott Marsh/ASN

Even though they didn’t work out in the team’s favor, I’m going to include Hans Backe’s substitution moves in this space. After the long nightmare that was the Juan Carlos Osorio administration, it’s refreshing to see a coach attack when the team is down a goal (even though this is exactly what you’re supposed to do when you’re down a goal, but in light of Osorio these fundamental details are very much appreciated). And who knows? Had Salou Ibrahim been a bit more focused he might have just leveled the match. He certainly had his chances. The second Chivas goal was the unfortunate result of throwing everybody forward but it’s something all of us will happily live with. Goal difference just doesn’t count as much in MLS as it does elsewhere (and that’s a good thing) so it makes sense to roll the dice in these types of situations. Props to Backe for doing so.

While we’re giving him credit, let’s not forget that this was a guy less than a week removed from pretty major surgery. Yet there he was on the team’s bench, after yet another cross country fight. The guy’s a trooper and deserves our respect.

The Bad
Let’s start with the obvious: Bouna Condoul. His mishap shortly after halftime will go down in the annals of great goalkeeping blunders. Ultimately, this cost the Red Bulls the game. However there are plenty of reasons why Chivas never should have got that close to begin with.

Start with Jeremy Hall, who gave Chukwudi Chijindu way, way too much space.

Continue with Dane Richards, who was late tracking back to lend help and then went about it completely wrong.

End with Seth Stammler, who misread the play and didn’t cut off the passing lanes.

Those failures are forgotten as a result of Condoul’s butterfingers, which does the other culprits, chiefly Richards and Hall, a disservice. More on those two later.

The Red
Speaking of bad performances, perhaps a bit of “I told you so” is due? To wit:

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.

Okay, so maybe things didn’t happen exactly as predicted. It wasn’t a cross that caused Condoul’s gaffe but a deflected shot off the post. And Chijindu, while not a left wing, certainly schooled Hall on the play that led to the first goal.

As for Angel, I’m still very much code red on him after Saturday’s performance. He’s obviously not willing to sit one out, which is well and good, but he’d better start producing soon. Not necessarily goals, but something that gives us an inkling that he still has it. Because right now, it certainly appears otherwise.

Tony Tchani seemed completely lost Saturday. It’s tough to come on as a sub sometimes, but the second overall pick in the draft had absolutely nothing working. It may be a little while until we see him again in a competitive match. Maybe the US Open Cup prelim game against Philadelphia?

The potential acquisition of Luke Rodgers. Who knows if this will even happen, but this guy just doesn’t excite me. Not sure if he’ll add anything. Then again, Joel Lindpere didn’t excite anybody either. Nor for that matter did the selection of Tim Ream.

The Dead
Dane Richards. Another deplorable performance. He’s simply not starter material and has no business taking the field with the starting 11.

The Jeremy Hall right back experiment needs to die. It hasn’t worked out and his skills are needed at the right midfield spot. Or left midfield.

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.

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Condoul costs Bulls first loss of the season

Posted on 10 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Just like that, the New York Red Bulls’ fast start is history.

Bouna Condoul © Scott Marsh/ASN

It ended in a fashion fans of the team are all too familiar with: on defensive miscues and squandered opportunities. New York goalkeeper Bouna Condoul was the goat this time, scoring an embarrassing own-goal early in the second half. His team never recovered and eventually lost 2-0 at Chivas USA.

Condoul’s gaffe was without doubt the most egregious mishap of the day. But his poor play had plenty of company. The team never really seemed to find its rhythm, though it came close late in both halves. Part of this was due to the play of the hosts, who controlled the possession with patient build-up.
When the visitors did have the ball their only option seemed to be Dane Richards, the fleet but vapid right midfielder. Predictably, these went nowhere. (More on Richards and individual performances in the player ratings below).

Still, the Red Bulls had their opportunities in the first half. Macoumba Kandji had two free headers he should have buried. The first came off of a corner, the second from a terrific cross by Joel Lindpere. The second was probably the visiting team’s best sequence of the entire match. But for the most part, the Red Bulls had few ideas going forward and anyway seemed content to let Chivas control the tempo. This is a perfectly fine tactic on the road against a team in danger of an 0-3 start, and for a little while it even seemed to work. But New York’s defense was porous and Chivas had their chances. Chukwudi Chijindu alone could (and probably should) have scored twice in the first half for the hosts (then again, Kandji should have done the same for the visitors).

The Red Bulls’ luck ran out in the 47th minute. Condoul clearly deserves the blame for the goal, but he is by no means the only guilty party on the play. Start with Jeremy Hall, who gave Chijindu way too much space on the left wing. Hall was expecting the UConn product to go toward the endline but even then was too far away to have any effect. Richards’ run to help Hall was far too late and in his haste Richards didn’t track the trailing player, Jesus Padilla. Seth Stammler, who had a solid game to that point, correctly spotted the danger brewing on the left wing (in the video replay you can see him pointing toward that part of the field) but then failed to cut off Chijindu’s passing lane and was late recovering as a result to challenge Padilla. So Chijindu, an interesting young player but by no means a star in the league, managed to monopolize three Red Bulls players on one play. Mike Petke probably should have done better deflecting the ball upfield or out of bounds, though that is admittedly a bit nitpick-y. And then Condoul did the rest.

Hans Backe, in marked contrast to the team’s first game of the season (and to Richie Williams in the second), went to his bench early. Just seven minutes after the goal he brought on Salou Ibrahim for Seth Stammler. Kandji moved to left midfield with Sinisa Ubiparipovic taking Stammler’s vacant spot at holding mid. The move clearly paid dividends, as Ibrahim had several chances that could (and in one case should) have resulted in goals. But Backe’s second and third substitutions, for Tony Tchani and Conor Chinn, respectively, had little effect. The Red Bulls threw everything forward but lacked the rhythm to develop any real chances the rest of the way. Chivas scored an “insurance goal” in stoppage time, again off of mistakes by several Red Bulls players. Speaking of which, now to the player ratings:

Player ratings

New York Red Bulls players ranked 1-10 with 10 being highest:

Condoul: 2
I’ve been saying for some time that this guy is a liability on corners and crosses. However, I’ve been quick to defend his play as a shot-stopper. So where does this gaffe fit in? Nowhere, really. It was one of those mistakes that can happen in a hair-raising moment of the match. Bouna probably panicked after seeing the ball bounce off the post and was in the unusual situation of having to go toward his line, rather than away from it, to make the save. Remember that goalies are trained to deflect the ball away from goal, so when your back is turned your instincts can get a bit fuzzy. Which is not to make any excuse for the play. Unfortunately it wasn’t even his only mishap of the game. In the first half he hesitated coming off his line and was almost caught in no-man’s land by Jonathan Bornstein. He was poorly positioned on Chivas’ second goal as well.

Hall: 4
Speaking of liabilities, this is the second straight game that Hall was owned on the right side of the pitch. He was almost entirely ineffective as a defensive player and this incompetence had a large result in both goals. He did have a few nice forays into the opposing half though and narrowly missed on a shot in the second half. Perhaps it’s time to end this experiment at right back (which remember was a Juan Carlos Osorio project). Play Hall at right midfield, where his skills will be put to better use.

Petke: 5
Can’t blame him for the first goal, but his misjudgment of a ball (off a goal kick) led in part to the second. His man-marking was a bit lackadaisical as well. Granted his job is not made any easier by having to cover for Hall all the time.

Ream: 6.5
My only critique of Ream at this point is that he needs to make his presence felt more. I know this isn’t his style but he can quickly assume a leadership position on this defense by getting more vocal for example. But that’s light criticism. Did spot some moments where he probably should have marked his man tighter, but this guy is hard to beat one-on-one.

Miller: 7

Shut his side of the field down, again. Was also effective making runs into the opposing half. Would like to see more of this, particularly when the team is down a goal. He seems to link up well with Kandji as well, when Mac plays left mid. Perhaps something for Backe to consider.

Richards: 3
His first few possessions were promising, but he quickly reverted to the Dane Richards of old. He got lucky when a few of his balls were knocked behind for corners in the first half but time and again he was the final stop for Red Bull attacks. This is just frustrating to watch. Worse, Richards did little defensively (see reporting of first goal, above). Another guy I’ve been picking on for awhile, but it’s not without reason. Needs to sit on the bench or better yet, be waived. He’s just not cutting it.

Seth Stammler: 5
Started well but also had his part in the first goal. He did make a few terrific tackles early in the game but should have read that play better.

Joel Lindpere: 6.5
First half was very strong. His cross to Kandji was a thing of beauty. Second half, not so much. Turned the ball over too many times and wasn’t able to launch many attacks, which is his primary duty to this team at this point–especially when they find themselves down a goal. A lot is expected of the Estonian Express after his first two games at Red Bull Arena. So when he even disappoints a little, you feel let down a lot. This isn’t fair, but neither is life.

Sinisa Ubiparipovic: 5
Did far too little at left mid. A few nice plays in the first half and that was about it. Also turned the ball over too many times. A disappointing performance.

Macoumba Kandji: 6
His play in the second half earns him this respectable grade. In the first, he blew two chances. It’s amazing that a guy this tall doesn’t head the ball better. Something to work on in training, no doubt. But Kandji just seems far more comfortable as a withdrawn forward or even attacking midfielder, as his play in the second half justifies. Did well to link up with Salou, who blew his chances.

Juan Pablo Angel: 4
Invisible. Again. It’s very sad to see this, and even tougher to say it, but here goes: Angel needs to be benched for the good of the team. He’s just not bringing it this season. Maybe he will be more effective as a late game substitute? Yes, the team deserves a lot of the blame for not getting him better service, but where are his runs? Most of the time he’s loitering around midfield.

Salou Ibrahim: 4
His entrance into the game immediately made a difference but he should have done much, much better with the chances he had. But this guy’s game appears well suited for MLS. When he begins to start on a regular basis he’ll turn it on, just watch.

Tony Tchani: 4
Did not look at all comfortable and didn’t seem to play the ball properly even once. It’s tough to get your MLS debut in a game and situation of this type, but more is expected of the youngster. He’ll get it together if he sees more time (perhaps for Dane Richards? Or hell, try him out at right back).

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Match Facts

New York Red Bulls 0, CD Chivas USA 2
April 10, 2010 – The Home Depot Center; Carson, CA
Attendance: 12,597

Scoring Summary:
CHV: Bouna Coundoul (own goal) 47’
CHV: Jesus Padilla 1 (Zach Thornton 1) 91’+

Disciplinary Summary:
NY: Mike Petke (caution) 19’
CHV: Jesus Padilla (caution) 90’

Lineups:

New York Red Bulls (2-1-0) – Bouna Coundoul (GK), Roy Miller (Conor Chinn 83’), Tim Ream, Mike Petke, Jeremy Hall, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Tony Tchani 77’), Joel Lindpere, Seth Stammler (Salou Ibrahim 54’), Dane Richards, Macoumba Kandji, Juan Pablo Angel

Substitutes Not Used: Greg Sutton, Andrew Boyens, Danleigh Borman, Carlos Mendes

CD Chivas USA (1-2-0) – Zach Thornton, Ante Jazic (Jesus Padilla 39’), Dario Delgado, Michael Umana, Mariano Trujillo, Jonathan Bornstein, Marcelo Saragosa, Blair Gavin, Sacha Kljestan, Chukwudi Chijindu, Maicon Santos (Maykel Galindo 58’, Michael Lahoud 77’)

Substitutes Not Used: Dan Kennedy, Yamith Cuesta, Justin Braun, Osael Romero

Officials:

Referee: Paul Ward
Referee’s Assistants: Joe Fletcher, Philippe Briere
4th Referee: Ramon Hernandez

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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).

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A road win! Bulls shut out Sounders, 1-0

Posted on 04 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Macoumba Kandji ©Scott Marsh/ASN

So far in 2010 the New York Red Bulls have raised the curtain on their new ground, laid to rest a “curse” that haunted the team for close to two years, won their first two games while not surrendering a goal in the process. Suffice it to say the Red Bull Arena era is off to a flying start. Tonight in Seattle, the team got an early goal from Macoumba Kandji and held on through some hair-raising moments to survive with a 1-0 win, just as they did against Chicago in the season opener.

Joel Lindpere discussed the game with reporters shortly after the final whistle. Give it a listen.

Other than that, there were numerous differences between tonight’s win at Qwest Field and last week’s at Red Bull Arena. Where the team’s defense impressed against Chicago, it was the Red Bulls’ attacking game that stood out against Seattle. Conversely, while its offense was almost completely stagnant in the season opener, its defense (and goalkeeping) was caught flat footed on more than just a few occasions in Week Two. Even the team’s coach was different: Richie Williams took the reins from Hans Backe, who watched from the hotel on doctor’s orders. The Swedish coach is expected to be back in charge next week at Chivas USA.

Tonight, New York got lucky. How many times will you see Freddie Ljungberg miss a header from point blank range, the way he did in the second half? How many mishandled crosses can Bouna Condoul get away with before the ball ends up in the back of his net?

For now, the team and its fans will gladly take the six points from two games. And winning at Seattle is particularly enjoyable after the season-opening meltdown one year ago. Then it was “Same ol’ Metro.” Now? Something more like “who are these guys?” And “break out the Red Bulls!”

Much more to follow, as we weave in reportage and photos from the ASN crew in Seattle. For now, here are the New York Red Bulls player ratings. Be sure to supply a grade and back up your assessment in the comment area at the bottom of the page.

Player Ratings

From 1-0 with 10 being highest:

Condoul – 5
Some stellar saves in the second half but man, this guy is a total liability on crosses. Very nearly cost the team several times.

Hall – 6
Several mistakes in the early going. Was beaten by his man a number of times in the first half as well. Did better in the second, even launching a few forays into the Sounders half.

Petke – 6
Caught out of position several times but there were several others where he was positioned perfectly. Still, the Sounders had way too many chances to warrant a higher grade at this point.

Ream – 6.5
Like Hall, he made a jittery start with a number of turnovers. Recovered and had some nice long balls to the forwards but eek, this was hairy.

Miller – 7
Spotted just one mistake in the first half, when an errant pass led to a Sounders chance. Was a rock in the second, however. Dispossessed Ljungberg a few times in the attacking third and locked down his part of the field, where the action was hotter in the late stages of the game.

Richards – 5
Better than the Chicago game, but not much. Did play a few nice balls into space in the early stages of the match, but most attacks still ended with him putting his head down and going nowhere. And how about that miss late in the game? This is the second time in as many games he was involved with what should have been the insurance goal. Against Chicago he teed off from a tight angle instead of slotting the ball to Angel. Here he blasted a perfect sitter (great service from Borman via Kandji by the way) over the bar.

Stammler – 6
Solid, not spectacular, which is what the holding midfielder is supposed to be. Turned the ball over a few too many times for my liking and was a bit quiet. But it’s his first game back. Something to build on.

Lindpere – 7
Did his part launching attacks in the first half. In the second his role was obviously more defensive, which makes sense with a 1-0 lead. And he did that well also. A stabilizing influence on the team overall.

Ubiparipovic – 6.5
Did well in the later stages of the game but was too sloppy in the first half to deserve a better grade. Still, a very high workrate on the left wing. Perhaps too high? Maybe his energy could be used more efficiently?

Angel – 5
Another disappointing performance. Complained a lot about bad, or nonexistent service, but did nothing with the chances that were provided (mainly from Kandji). Still doesn’t seem completely comfortable in the offense and not sure if tracking back the way he does is working. Also appears tentative, presumably due to injury. Don’t think it would have hurt to sit him for this game. As it turns out it didn’t hurt to start him either.

Kandji – 8
If I didn’t know better I’d almost think he read and took to heart last week’s rating, when I wrote “Mac needs to lighten up on the stepovers and backheels and go back to fundamentals. Make runs, move the ball…” He did exactly that and the result was an entirely different attacking game for the Red Bulls. Scoring the winning goal was nice enough; he did well to find a spot and then position his body to deposit the ball in the roof of the net when it bounced his way. Better still were some of his passes, particularly in the second half; the one to Borman should have resulted in the second goal but went wanting (see Richards, Dane). Kandji just seems more comfortable in a withdrawn forward role, hopefully he’ll see more opportunities in this position.

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Match Facts

New York Red Bulls 1, Seattle Sounders FC 0
April 3, 2010 –Qwest Field; Seattle, WA
Attendance: 36,066

Scoring Summary:
NY: Kandji 1 (unassisted) 21’

Disciplinary Summary:
SEA: Ljungberg (caution) 10’
NY: Petke (caution) 35’
NY: Kandji (caution) 62’
SEA: Riley (caution) 63’

Lineups:
New York Red Bulls (2-0-0) – Bouna Coundoul (GK), Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Mike Petke, Jeremy Hall, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Danleigh Borman 79’), Joel Lindpere, Seth Stammler, Dane Richards, Macoumba Kandji (Conor Chinn 89’), Juan Pablo Angel

Substitutes Not Used: Greg Sutton, Andrew Boyens, Austin da Luz, Juan Agudelo, Tony Tchani

Seattle Sounders FC (1-1-0) – Kasey Keller, Leo Gonzalez (David Estrada, 83′), Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley, Steve Zakuani (Sanna Nyassi 76’), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Roger Levesque (Pat Noonan 56’), Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero

Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Nathan Sturgis

Officials:
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee’s Assistants: Darren Clark, Hector Vergara
4th Referee: Tyler Ploeger

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(Updated) preview and projected starting lineup for Week 2 vs Sounders

Posted on 02 April 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

The Week 1 win over Chicago, though not without its flaws, was nice from a results standpoint. Very nice, even, considering New York had not defeated the Fire since the Bush administration. Tomorrow night at Seattle’s Qwest Field the Red Bulls can accomplish something else they haven’t done since a Republican inhabited the White House–win on the road.

It will not be an easy task. With its plastic pitch and raucous 35,000-odd crowd, Qwest Field is the toughest away match the Red Bulls face this year. On top of everything else, New York is still short-handed. Its best player, Juan Pablo Angel, may be fit on paper, but anybody who saw him against Chicago knows this isn’t the same guy who scored 73 goals in his first three seasons with the club. On this week’s Seeing Red! podcast (yeah that’s a shameless plug. Deal with it) I argued that Angel should be withheld from the lineup altogether. The risk of (further) injury is simply too great and the potential upside too small given that Angel is clearly not at his best and this is a game the Red Bulls are expected to lose anyway.

Ibrahim Salou is still awaiting his working papers and is not expected to be an option. Macoumba Kandji, who started alongside Angel last week, has not impressed either. So who to play up top? I’m told that Juan Agudelo has been seeing time with the first team in practice this week. Expect him to get his first MLS start at Qwest Field. Barring a major surprise Kandji will start at the other forward spot, even though he probably doesn’t deserve to. Of course Angel could go as well. But unless he is really 100% fit, the Colombian should sit this one out for the good of the team. With Carl Robinson expected to return the rest of the starting lineup will be identical to what it was in the Red Bull Arena grand opening game against Santos:

Update: Carl Robinson did not travel with the team and is ruled out of the Seattle match. Danleigh Borman probably did enough to get another start, though we’d still much rather see Austin da Luz. Sinisa Ubiparipovic will take Robinson’s spot as holding midfielder.

——–Kandji——–Agudelo——–
Borman–Lindpere–Ubiparipovic–Richards
Miller——Ream——-Petke——–Hall
————–Condoul—————-

Dane Richards doesn’t deserve to start either after his performance against Chicago, but what ready-made alternatives does Hans Backe have at right mid? The obvious player to spell Richards, Matthew Mbuta, was jettisoned in the offseason. Luke Sassano, Tony Tchani and perhaps even Seth Stammler are options, but all lack the pace sought by Backe for that position. Trialist Damani Ralph saw time at right mid in the exhibition match against Army and Irving Garcia appears to have popped up there as well (judging by our photo gallery); are either of them perhaps being groomed to replace Richards? Don’t expect a move to happen right away–or at all, even. Richards appears to be the choice for right midfield and he will receive every opportunity to show he deserves the spot. My mind may be made up on Richards (again, defer to my Seeing Red! comments) but Backe does not agree with me (give him a few more games).

For Seattle, the big question is whether Freddie Ljungberg is fit. The Swedish midfielder picked up a knock in the Sounders’ season opening win over Philadelphia and at the time of this writing was questionable. If Ljungberg can’t go it will obviously be a break for Red Bull. But even then the home side will be favored. With Freddy Montero, Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans, Seattle simply has too much talent at midfield and forward. The Red Bulls defense, which has performed very well to date and carries a clean sheet into the match, will have its hands full with or without Ljungberg. The Miller-Ream-Petke-Hall back four will be put to the test Saturday. How well they withstand the pressure could tell us a lot about the team’s chances this season.

The road winless streak will be snapped at some point this season–perhaps even some point soon; the Red Bulls’ next game is at Chivas USA, who have looked hapless in their first two games of the season. But it won’t happen in Seattle. If New York comes away with a point it will be a major accomplishment. Fans would be wise to adopt this attitude.

Speaking of which, both the Empire Supporters and Garden State Supporters clubs will host viewing parties Saturday night. ESC’s will be at Nevada Smith’s on Third Ave between 11th and 12th streets in Manhattan; GSS’ at MMM Bellos on Market Street in Newark, N.J. Kickoff is at 10:30pm.

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Episode 5: Sounders reporter Prost Amerika, review of Fire match and more!

Posted on 01 April 2010 by ASN Staff

Seeing Red! The New York Soccer Roundup

In our fifth podcast, we dig into the Red Bulls’ 1-nil victory over the Fire, preview the Sounders match with Prost Amerika writer Steve Clare, answer emails and more. Check it out!

Seeing Red! is a collaboration of ASN’s Nathaniel E. Baker, Mark Fishkin of TheKinOfFish and Dave Martinez of RedBulls.TheOffside. For more information visit SeeingRedNY.com.

You can now subscribe to the show on itunes as well.

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Rate the player ratings

Posted on 29 March 2010 by ASN Staff

We at ASN value readers input greatly. As part of this we are giving you the opportunity to “grade the grades” of the player ratings from Saturday night’s New York Red Bulls victory over the Chicago Fire. The ratings originally ran in the original match report (which by the way comes with a full photo gallery) but are reprinted below, followed by the “grade poll”.

Player ratings

From a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest:

Condoul – 7
The McBride play was bad and very nearly costly but he made good for it in the second half. Venturing out of his goal was never Condoul’s game anyway; he’s essentially a pure shot stopper who is most comfortable (and effective) making acrobatic saves off his line. At that he’s one of the best in the game.

Hall – 7
Pretty much shut the right side of the field down. Had a few nice forays into the attacking zone as well, though he seemed a bit tentative in that area. But that’s fine for now; Hall’s defensive skills are at a premium and he seems far more comfortable at right back than he did last year.

Petke – 8
Didn’t spot any mistakes from this guy. Played with poise and leadership; particularly strong in the air though one or two of those headers might have been better off placed elsewhere. But that’s hard to do in the heat of battle and anyway a minor critique. Appears to be playing a full decade younger than his actual age (34). To think a lot of people had given up on this guy at the end of last year?

Ream – 7

Another strong outing, though we did spot a few mistakes this time out. Was beaten by his man pretty badly on one play in the first half and a pass or two turned into turnovers that were very nearly costly. But otherwise very solid and not just defensively but also as a ball distributor. It really is amazing how this guy dropped so far in the draft.

Miller – 8
Played very well. Was a linchpin for attacks and did well in keeping the ball moving. Solid defensively. May have actually been the best player on the pitch.

Borman – 6.5
Did well at times, especially in the first half. Had some nice passes that led to scoring opportunities. But also turned the ball over several times and many of his runs went nowhere. If he could develop his right foot he’d be a dangerous player, but we’ve been saying this for two years now…

Lindpere – 8

The goal, which ended up as the game winner, was superb. Also had some nice runs and a few quality passes into space. Need to see more of this. As he gets more comfortable with MLS’ style (which by the way seems to suit a physical player like him perfectly) we will.

Ubiparipovic – 7
Another solid game from another player that had been written off by many fans and pundits alike. Has a strong technical game and sees the field very well. In this game his role was more defensive due to Robinson’s injury. If he was a little more aggressive it would surely help the team develop scoring chances.

Richards – 4
Sadly, Dane Richards seems to have relapsed to…Dane Richards. The player from last week’s Santos match (the same guy who blew everybody away in the 2008 postseason) has apparently disappeared again. There were several times when he had space on the wing, but chose to put his head down and try to sprint past his defender. That hasn’t worked since his rookie season and it isn’t going to start working now. Even less excusable was his decision to shoot from a tight angle when Juan Pablo Angel was wide open to his immediate left–this on a play in the second half that would have put the game on ice. This team has plenty of guys who can play right midfield and will gladly do so, and be far better than Richards. Time for Backe to give one of them a chance.

Angel – 4.5
The Colombian striker looked out of sorts. Perhaps he is still feeling the effects of the Julian de Guzman tackle in the preseason. The service was mainly poor but there were two chances from point blank range that Red Bull fans are used to seeing this guy bury. We fear the effects of age are beginning to take their toll.

Kandji – 4.5
Interestingly enough he looked more comfortable after Backe switched him to left midfield. Mac needs to lighten up on the stepovers and backheels and go back to fundamentals. Make runs, move the ball (which we know he has the talent to do well) or simply put his head down and bullrush past defenders. This stuff isn’t working.

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You may also provide any comments, critiques or criticism of the grades in the field below.

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