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Hans Backe discusses the 3-1 loss to Columbus

Posted on 20 May 2010 by ASN Staff

New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe answered reporters questions immediately after the team’s May 20 defeat to the Columbus Crew.

Discuss the game on our forum.

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The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 17 May 2010 by ASN Staff

Welcome to the eighth 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’ 1-0 defeat to Seattle on Saturday. To see an explanation of these terms (Good, Bad, Red, Dead) skip to the bottom of this page.

The Good:
Danleigh Borman. After some difficulties in the opening minutes he got more comfortable as the game wore on. His goalline save, where he bailed out Bouna Condoul, was class.

Carl Robinson may just be a serviceable midfielder after all. Had his best game as a Red Bull. Granted that isn’t saying much but we’ll take what we can get. Little victories.

Jeremy Hall actually had a decent defensive game. For whatever reason Seattle chose not to have Steve Zakuani attack his part of the field. The few times they did it went nowhere.

The Bad:
Juan Pablo Angel. I’ve said it before: This guy can’t move. But it goes beyond that. He can no longer play his role as target striker. Instead he is caught in some kind of existential struggle to redefine his position. This is why you see him in midfield where (presumably) his body takes less of a pounding and where he does not have to engage defenders (even slow ones like Leo Gonzalez) in foot races. Except, this just causes more problems for the actual guys playing midfield. Specifically, it makes Joel Lindpere’s job much more difficult as he suddenly has to compete for balls with Angel and has less space to operate. Lindpere, lest we forget, is the team’s best and only midfield attacking weapon at this point. Yeah, we know, Angel isn’t getting the service he needs and deserves, particularly from the wings. But forwards also have to create chances for themselves by making runs and creating space. Angel does not appear capable of either at this point in his career. That’s a shame, but it has gotten to the point where it is dragging the rest of the team down as well. And oh yeah, his attitude, at least as displayed in his very visible body language during games, is not doing him any favors either. Instead of bitching about lack of service, how about starting a run to create a passing lane for somebody? Oh right, he can’t run. Then sit yourself on the bench. This is not the time or the place to redefine yourself as a midfielder. Unfortunately, with injuries to Macoumba Kandji and now Salou Ibrahim there are few realistic alternatives at striker.

Bouna Condoul had another horrible game. By sheer luck (and Danleigh Borman) he didn’t cost the team any goals, though he probably should have done better with Freddy Montero’s shot that ended up in the net.

Dane Richards was largely invisible except when he was giving the ball to the opposition and doing his best to turn scoring chances into exercises in futility.

The Red
There are a few potential flashpoints on this roster that deserve our attention in the coming weeks. One is obviously striker, where Angel appears incapable of positive contributions. But Angel isn’t going anywhere and not only because he’s the captain of the team. There just aren’t any other options at striker. Conor Chinn has serious weaknesses as we saw vs. New England, Kandji is out, John Wolyniec will probably need to take Salou’s place and that’s about it without getting Osorio-an.

At this point the goalkeeper position may be the team’s most glaring issue. Condoul has had his chance. Several of them, in fact. He still can’t position himself, can barely take goal kicks and does way too many bonehead things. But here too there is no real competition. Greg Sutton has done very little to prove he is at all reliable and there are no other goalies on the roster at present. It sure would be nice to have a guy like Jon Busch, wouldn’t it? Surely the second division has goalkeepers who can do better than either one on the New York Red Bulls’ roster at present. Please sign one or two. Or go to Europe if you absolutely need to. Just do something, please.

Dane Richards was taken out of the game pretty early, the first indication that Hans Backe might not be happy with his play. Will we see somebody else start at right midfield Thursday? Let’s hope so because Dane Richards doesn’t belong in MLS at this point.

Speaking of Backe, what was he doing playing Seth Stammler at left midfield in a home game? And why did he play Brian Nielsen as a forward, much less on the right side? Yes, we are now questioning Backe’s decisions. Well, it was inevitable.

The traffic/transportation situation to and from Red Bull Arena came back to bite the team. I’m not faulting the authorities for doing what they need to when situations involving suspicious packages and the like arise. But there are simply no contingency plans to deal with these type of issues. The area around Red Bull Arena not only lacks parking but appears to be a giant bottleneck. This was not the last time something like this will happen either. It doesn’t have to be a suspicious package. Debris on the track, electrical issues, “sick” passengers and any number of other issues can cut off the lone line of rail access from Manhattan to Harrison. With that, the team loses potential fans and its efforts to grow the sport in the area take a giant step back.

The Dead
The idea that Bouna Condoul and Dane Richards can be starters needs to be quashed.

Seth Stammler at left midfield. Never again, please.

Juan Pablo Angel as creative attacking midfielder. Unless he wants to try it in practice first.

We don’t want to see him die but Tyrone Marshall is a punk thug who should get a lifetime ban for all the things he has already done. Most recent example: After getting a yellow card Saturday he responded with an obscene gesture to display his outrage. Never mind the fact that Marshall probably should have been thrown out of the game for trying to play referee and cop and being a general wanker on the previous play. The gesture was caught on camera. It was in plain sight, though the referee had his head turned slightly. That should have been a second yellow card and automatic expulsion.

More ASN coverage of the match

Hans Backe’s postgame press conference audio

Mike Petke makes his feelings known on the match

Player ratings

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.

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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Hans Backe press conference following first loss at Red Bull Arena

Posted on 15 May 2010 by ASN Staff

New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe answered reporters questions immediately after the team’s May 15 defeat to the Seattle Sounders, its first loss at Red Bull Arena.

More ASN coverage of the match

Mike Petke makes his feelings known on the match

Player ratings

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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The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 10 May 2010 by ASN Staff

Welcome to the seventh 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’ 4-0 defeat at San Jose on Saturday. To see an explanation of these terms (Good, Bad, Red, Dead) skip to the bottom of this page.

The Good:

Tony Tchani played well in his first MLS start. He’s got a few kinks to sort out but he can definitely become a solid contributor in this league. Maybe a lot more than that.

Salou Ibrahim wasn’t terrible.

Yes, that’s what we have to resort to this week in “The Good” category. “Not terrible.” That kind of week, folks. Hopefully there won’t be one of these for quite some time.

I suppose that’s another good thing; that this is an anomaly rather than the norm it was last year. Or at least it has been so far.

The Bad:

Start with the team as a whole. They clearly quit after the second San Jose goal. It wasn’t so much about keeping the Quakes’ margin of victory respectable (goal difference carries little weight in MLS) but that it just doesn’t speak well to the team’s spirit. It was the first time you can really say the team as a whole disappointed this season.

If we’re going to pick on individual players for their gaffes (and yes, we absolutely will) it starts with one name: Luke Sassano.

Contrary to many fans, I do not fault Hans Backe for starting Sassano in Jeremy Hall’s place. Hall has been a major defensive liability and with Bobby Convey in form it was going to make for a long night. Of course, as it turned out it was a long night anyway. Blame Sassano for this. All he had to do was keep Convey in check, guard the byline and eliminate his runs down that side. Okay, so that’s a lot easier said than done. But the point is that having a defensive player in that role, even if it’s just to cut off some passing lanes, would have done more for the team’s defense than Jeremy Hall does at that position. The one caveat being that the player in question had to actually stay in the game. Sassano failed at this in a very egregious manner, by committing a boneheaded foul (that was absolutely red card worthy by the way) and getting himself sent off after 13 minutes.

That foul threw the entire gameplan, of which Sassano played a major role, out the window. The team basically had to retreat into a shell, with Seth Stammler abandoning his spot in left midfield to take over the right back spot. This cut into the Red Bulls’ presence in midfield, which in turn eliminated the service to the forwards.

Even so they should have done better.

Tim Ream finally had his rookie game. It was unfortunate that it happened right when the team was forced to rely on him more than usual. We’re willing to give him a pass because it’s the first time this happened. But his overall level of urgency seemed lacking. He was burned on the first Quakes goal and had a large part in the second (though not as much as the guy we’re about to pick on). I realize part of this is Ream’s overall demeanor, but still, you want to see somebody a little more fired up in those situations.

Bouna Condoul’s gaffe gifted the Quakes their second goal, causing the team to pack it in before losing 4-0. You can’t blame Bouna for the fact that the team quit, but you can blame him for letting in a soft goal when the team could ill afford it. A two goal deficit in the second half, with a man down on the road is very, very difficult to come back from. But the Red Bulls certainly could have salvaged something had the score remained 1-0 for awhile. It didn’t though, and the reason for that has a name: Bouna Condoul (with assist to Tim Ream).

Seth Stammler needs to step up in situations like this. I know it’s not an ideal scenario, but he and Mike Petke were the veteran guys back there and the team really could have used some leadership.

The Red:

Juan Pablo Angel looked completely lost. He could barely move after about 20 minutes. This has been going on too long to write it off as a lingering injury or bad form. It may very well be one or the other, or even both, but age and wear and tear are no doubt the larger factors. We are in all likelihood witnessing the twilight of Angel’s career. At this point you can barely justify bringing him back as as non-designated player next year. Or, if current patterns hold you won’t be able to at season end. Very sad.

After such a disappointing loss, what will the turnout be this weekend against the Seattle Sounders?

If the gate is even weaker than it was for Philly (say 13K or below) and the Red Bulls lose, then what?

Who exactly are this team’s leaders? Angel is ineffective. Mike Petke? He didn’t appear to do the job Saturday, or even want it. Stammler? Not a regular starter. Lindpere, Carl Robinson, Roy Miller and Ibrahim Salou are too new. Dane Richards? Uh, right.

What role, if any, does Backe envision for Jeremy Hall? Obviously Sassano is not a realistic alternative, but we’re (again) expecting Chris Albright to start Saturday at right back.

Speaking of Backe, how, if at all, does he react to the team’s first truly disappointing outing of the season?

The Dead
Who does this team have to play goalie? It appears neither Coundoul nor Greg Sutton are up for the job. Where have you gone Caleb Patterson-Sewell?

Will Sassano get a chance to redeem himself in the US Open Cup game Wednesday? Or did he hang himself with the rope Backe supplied him?

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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Give n' Quake A dialogue with San Jose Web site CenterLineSoccer

Posted on 07 May 2010 by ASN Staff

ASN was approached by CenterLineSoccer‘s Robert Jonas this week, who came to us with a unique idea for a preview of this weekend’s New York Red Bulls v San Jose Earthquakes match. (CenterLineSoccer, for the uninitiated, is the leading soccer website for all things Quakes and Bay Area soccer). Jonas’ idea was to engage in an email dialogue where he and ASN’s Red Bulls’ correspondent Nathaniel Baker would ask each other questions about their respective teams. The resulting give-and-take would be transcribed in its entirety, and would surely be an interesting read for fans of both teams. Here is the result of these efforts:

CenterLineSoccer: RBNY looks like a completely different team on the field this season as compared to 2009, and now has 15 points in their first six games. What is it about the coaching style of Hans Backe and the tactical strategy he has installed that has lead to such a remarkable start to the season?

ASN: What Backe (and GM Erik Soler, who also deserves credit) have done is boil things down to where they are very simple: A straightforward 4-4-2 formation. Players are slotted into an assigned position and are kept there. Tinkering with the lineup is kept at an absolute minimum, if not excluded outright. The strategy is simple as well: Control possession, try to dominate the midfield. If nobody is open play the ball long rather than try something fancy.

This is 180 degrees different from what Juan Carlos Osorio was doing last year. He switched formations constantly and was never satisfied with a player’s position, moving guys in and out of slots whether they had played there before (or had any aptitude for it) or not. He seemed obsessed with creating a quasi “Italian” style of defensive system, but took this to ridiculous extremes, sometimes bunkering regardless if the team had the lead. I swear I saw him bunker when the team was actually down a goal. He’d also substitute in defensive players when the team was losing. Crazy stuff like that.

Backe also brings experience as a head coach. Osorio had a brief stint at the Chicago Fire but otherwise had never been a head coach before. He also struck me as a micromanager where Backe is more of a laid back Scandinavian guy.

Having said that, from a personnel perspective this team is very similar to the one that went 5-30 (or whatever it was) in 2009. Seven of 11 starters were with the team last year. And honestly, its performances have not been dominant this year. In fact, it has several lucky wins. Sure, you create your own luck to an extent. But with one exception (last weekend’s win at DC United), all victories have come by one goal. I think the team benefited from having some opposing players (Jeff Cunningham and Freddie Ljungberg come to mind) in early season form where they didn’t convert gimme chances. Jeremy Hall is a liability at right back but he may be replaced by Chris Albright on Saturday, who is returning from injury.

Convey's play has been a big difference this year for the Quakes

That actually serves as a perfect lead-in for my question to you: Is Bobby Convey’s renaissance for real? Because if it is, and if Jeremy Hall starts at right back, it could be a long day for the New York Red Bulls.

Bobby Convey is playing with a new found vigor this season that seemed inconsistent in 2009. Paired on the left side of the Quakes 4-4-2 formation with defender Ramiro Corrales, the two US Men’s National Team veterans are working well together both in defense and transition. Last year, the Quakes had Darren Huckerby as the left winger, and tried to play Convey at left back. The combination did not suit the playing style of Convey, as Huckerby did little to help in defense, so he needed to stay rooted to the defensive line. As a midfielder, he has the opportunities to get forward both with possession and as a target winger. Corrales is also able to venture forward at times, and Convey is able to cover for him. Additionally, Convey is taking care of some of the dirty work in midfield by effectively challenging opponents with tight coverage and slide tackles. Looking at his performances after the season opener, Convey continues to improve and he has established himself as the Quakes first-choice midfield winger.

A big problem for the Red Bulls last season was in defense, where the team leaked in an Eastern Conference high 47 goals. What is the difference so far this season?

Ah, excellent question. This is one area the team actually has been transformed personnel-wise. Other than the aforementioned Jeremy Hall, that is. Roy Miller was brought in to play left back and has done admirably. Mike Petke, whom a lot of people had written off as washed up after last season, has had a rebirth. But the biggest difference has been the emergence of rookie Tim Ream at the other centerback spot. The kid is amazing and plays with a poise way beyond his 22 years. Nobody quite knows how he fell so far in the draft (late second round, behind many guys who haven’t even seen significant minutes) because he appears to be an early favorite for rookie of the year. We’ve already penciled him in as a future national team back. That’s obviously a bit premature and he only has six professional games under his belt. But he has been the biggest difference for this team.

Speaking of defense, the Quakes haven’t allowed a goal at home since the first game of the season? Is that a coincidence or is there an explanation for it?

The Earthquakes were even worse defensively than the Red Bulls last season, letting in a league-high 50 goals. After the 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake in the home opener, many feared the team would continue down that path. However, I watched these guys spend a great deal of the preseason working to define their defensive shape. 2009 starters Jason Hernandez, Chris Leitch, and Corrales all returned, while drafted newcomers Ike Opara and Steve Beitashour along with ex-Chivas USA defender Bobby Burling joined together to form a cohesive group. Coach Frank Yallop has needed to juggle the starting four from that group, but with little consequence on the field. With Joe Cannon fully healthy and not facing a barrage of MLS Goal of the Week candidates, the Quakes are settling in with a defensive shape that was often lacking last season. Add to that the effect of Brandon McDonald as a defensive midfielder and a narrow field at Buck Shaw Stadium, and opposing offensives have little space to be creative in front of the Earthquakes goal.

Knowing that, what will New York forwards Juan Pablo Angel and Salou Ibrahim need to do to create chances in the offensive third? What has worked for them so far this season?

I’m not sure Angel and Ibrahim need to create chances per se; they just need to convert them. So the more relevant question is who and what can serve them the ball? The answer is Joel Lindpere. Probably the most influential acquisition the team made in the off season (even more than Ream), Lindpere brings pace and creativity to the Red Bulls’ central midfield. Then again, the is Buck Shaw so isn’t everything central midfield? It’s not like there is ample space on the wings to exploit.

Another guy to watch is Dane Richards, who had his best game of the year against DC, assisting on the winning goal. But Richards is a head case (in that he doesn’t appear to have that much upstairs) and has been maddeningly inconsistent. He’ll show signs of life, or of becoming a legitimate star, and then he’ll follow it up with a performance that leaves fans scratching their heads and calling for his scalp. So if past patterns hold, the Quakes should have nothing to worry about. Then again, Dane hasn’t been THIS good in a long time. So who knows.

Then there’s the left midfield spot, which will be occupied by the team’s newest acquisition, Brian Nielsen, if he is healthy (heard something about him having some irregular pulse or something). This guy has mad pace and technical skills to boot. But again, with space at a premium will he be able to work his magic?

Are you serious? Is Chris Leitch playing well for you guys? We had him a couple of years ago and he scored more goals for the opposing team (quite literally) than prevent them.

Leitch did very well last season, missing only one game due to a red card suspension. His consistent play on the right side and his ability to run the wing into the attacking half resulted in him being named the Earthquakes 2009 defender of the year. Perhaps he is a changed player from his time in New York. Instead, I propose that Leitch is now playing a position he is comfortable in, with a centerback in Hernandez that helps him cover the right side of the defensive four. Heck, he even scored a wonderful goal in the failed U.S. Open Cup play-in game back in April against Real Salt Lake.

Paired on the right side with crafty midfielder Joey Gjertsen, a former USL-1 MVP, Leitch should continue his stable ways this season. The nine-year veteran is now hitting his peak playing years.

So I want to know, what formation should we expect from the Red Bulls, and how are they going to manage to break down what is proving to be a very stubborn Earthquakes defense?

Okay well you’re definitely going to see a straight-up 4-4-2, which the team has played with all season. The back line will consist of Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Mike Petke and Jeremy Hall (Chris Albright will not make the trip).

Those are definites. The forward line of Salou Ibrahim and Juan Pablo Angel is pretty much certain as well. Where it gets interesting is in midfield. Brian Nielsen, who should start at left mid, is at best a substitute for this match. Carl Robinson is out. So the Red Bulls have to fill half of its midfield starters. Dane Richards at RM and Joel Lindpere in the center are definites.

I expect to see Seth Stammler at left midfield, a position he played well at DC last week. With the narrow Buck Shaw pitch you can afford to put a central midfielder in that spot. I also expect to see Tony Tchani start for Robinson. This would be Tchani’s first start in MLS.

So who are the Quakes main forward threats?

The Earthquakes made some noise this offseason by signing the Brazilian forward Eduardo as a free agent from FC Basel in Switzerland, and also picked up ex-Quake and KC Wizard Scott Sealy on his return from the Israeli league. However, both veterans currently reside on the bench as coach Yallop has chosen to go with last year’s leading scorer Ryan Johnson alongside Chris Wondolowski. Wondo, as we all call him, got his first start this season due to a spate of injuries to the guys ahead of him of the depth chart, and has seized his chance with three goals in his last three starts.

While there is some concern that Johnson has yet to get on the scoresheet, he has had some quality chances early on this season. The Quakes are content to soak up pressure with their defense then attack directly up field on the counterattack. As opportunistic finishers Johnson and Wondo are well suited to strike when the chances come. Wingers Joey Gjertsen and Bobby Convey will also join the attack, especially as providers of the ball into the penalty area. It should be a lot of fun to watch Johnson and Wondo challange for the ball against the Red Bulls tough central defensive due of Mike Petke and Tim Ream.

Well, Nathaniel, time to ask you what is your prediction for the weekend? Can the Red Bulls continue their road success and stretch their Eastern Conference lead with a possible win against the Quakes?

Honestly, I doubt it. Wondo is hot and we know Ryan Johnson has skills. He’ll also be able to knock Ream around a bit. I don’t think Jeremy Hall will be able to contain Bobby Convey at all. Another thing we haven’t discussed yet is goalkeeper play. Bouna Condoul is a terrific athlete and excellent shot stopper but cannot play the position to save his life. He’s a liability, though the narrow pitch should help him some (fewer crosses). Unfortunately I’m stuck with a 2-2 prediction, which is what I called on a pair of podcasts this week (Around The League and Seeing Red! The New York Soccer Roundup). In fairness, I made those thinking Albright would play for Hall. If I could have a do-over in light of this development I would call 3-1 Quakes.

Well, I feel the Earthquakes are content to play a simple strategy of defend and counterattack. Hopefully, the quality of play won’t be as ugly as it was at times against Colorado, but I predict the game will have the same final score. Another 1-0 win for the Quakes and their third home shutout in a row.

Robert Jonas can be heard on the MLS review show on Major League Soccer Talk every other week. His twitter handle is @robertjonas

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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.

Explanation

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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Hans Backe discusses the first win at RFK since 2005

Posted on 01 May 2010 by ASN Staff

New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe answered reporters questions immediately after the team’s May 1 win at DC United, its first victory at RFK Stadium in nearly five years.

More coverage of the match:

Initial report and reaction
Petke: ‘I can’t get over the fact that we’re 5-1’
Player ratings
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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The Good, the Bad, the Red, the Dead

Posted on 28 April 2010 by ASN Staff

Welcome to the fifth 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 in the US Open Cup game Tuesday night. To see an explanation of these terms (Good, Bad, Red, Dead) skip to the bottom of this page.

The Good:
Basically everybody who played started the match, with possible exception of Carlos Mendes whom we’ll discuss later. And Greg Sutton. Okay, just about everybody. Nine of 11 ain’t bad. This team came out focused and played inspired soccer. The first half was a clinic and New York really should have led by three or four goals instead of one or two at intermission.

Of particular note here are Seth Stammler and Tony Tchani. Chinn deserves mention for his two goals but he also missed at least half that many solid chances. Tchani and Stamm simply dominated the center of the park. That’s exactly what Hans Backe was talking about when he said the team needs more control of midfield play.

Chris Albright when healthy is a first rate player. We saw that last night. Can’t wait for him to start at San Jose next week.

The Bad:
The opponents were and that puts the Baby Bulls’ stellar performance in perspective a bit. Or at least it raises the old chicken/egg question of whether Philly is flat-out hopeless by itself or whether the Red Bulls made them that way.

We’re focused on the Red Bulls here, but the antics of Union coach Peter Nowak are a joke. Making a team of professional adults run wind sprints to punish them for their performance? Holding a closed door meeting for nearly an hour instead of making himself and his team available to the press? At least one reporter, from Philadelphia, was in danger of missing his publication’s deadline as a result. The Philadelphia players we spoke to (when they were finally made available) were careful not to criticize their coach on the record or when the tape recorders were running. But more than one pair of eyebrows were raised when Nowak’s methods were mentioned. This can’t end well for the former Olympic team coach. It will be interesting to watch the team in the weeks ahead to see if they respond at all to these motivational ploys or (what is more likely) quit on Nowak the way a certain team quit on its notebook-wielding Colombian coach last season.

The Red:
We’re giving the attendance a pass for last night because, let’s face it, nobody really goes to preliminary round US Open Cup games under the best of circumstances. 8pm on Tuesday night in blustery conditions are not even decent circumstances. However there is some real concern about the turnout for the next MLS home game, against the Seattle Sounders on May 15.

Carlos Mendes looks a lot slower, thicker and less skilled than he did the last time we saw him. He’s coming off a tough injury but you have to wonder how much longer Mendes, who turns 30 this year, can hang on to his roster spot.

Also was anybody else happy to see a striker and holding midfielder who can actually move like professional athletes? And did anybody else think that maybe, just maybe, these guys are holding the team back from playing the way it is capable of?

The Dead:
Greg Sutton is not the answer at goalkeeper. In fact, he barely has the making of a serviceable backup. For all his flaws, Bouna Condoul is capable of spectacular saves that can turn a game (see FC Dallas, April 17). Sutton barely seems capable of making the standard ones. You almost have to wonder what he’s doing on the roster at this point. Surely younger, cheaper (and better) alternatives are out there?


Explanation:
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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US Open Cup win over Philly:Hans Backe post game press conference

Posted on 27 April 2010 by ASN Staff

New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe discusses his team’s 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union in the U.S. Open Cup play-in game at Red Bull Arena, April 27. He was particularly impressed with the play of Tony Tchani in the first half. But listen for yourself.

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