My Take on the Red Bulls season opener

Goldieoscar_ap

(Okay, so it took me a few days longer than normal, but I have finally had some time to sit down and write about the Red Bulls’ season opener. Here is my take on the team’s 2-0 win against Columbus last Saturday.)

What sort of influence would Juan Carlos Osorio have? That was the first question to consider when the 2008 Red Bulls took the field on Saturday. The questions about what new players he will bring in remains largely unanswered (and may not be answered until the summer), but Osorio had his chance last Saturday to give Red Bulls fans a glimpse of the type of impact he could have on what is in many ways the same team that Bruce Arena rode through a roller-coaster of underachievement in 2007.

We won’t be able to measure the new coach’s impact until season’s end but what we saw on Saturday, inspired performances from several players who came into the season with question marks, is a good sign that the team’s 11th coach has already made a strong impact on the Red Bulls.

You had Seth Stammler, looking comfortable and confident as a midfield bulldog after spending last season shuffling between midfield and defense. You had Kevin Goldthwaite, whose confidence had hit rock-bottom last season even before a season-ending knee injury, looking like an all-star defender. You also had Chris Leitch, who endured the worst stretch of his career late last season before being benched, looking like the confident veteran who gave the MetroStars some quality seasons.

As promising as those individual performances were, they did not hide the fact that the team still has plenty of needs to address before it can be taken seriously as a strong contender.

Yes, the club was missing Jozy Altidore, Dane Richards and Hunter Freeman, three of the team’s better players in 2007, but their absences didn’t explain away the voids in the team’s current roster.

The back-line was strong against a Columbus attack that just didn’t have much in the way of good attacking ideas, but Jeff Parke’s silly second yellow card and subsequent ejection highlighted the team’s continued need for a dependable leader in central defense. Parke has the talent, that has never been a doubt, but his mental lapses have been an issue throughout his career and are what keep him from being an all star.

The central midfield proved to be an issue once again as Sinisa Ubiparipovic followed up a strong 25-30 minutes with 15 minutes that were so shaky that Osorio pulled him at halftime. With no other options on the bench for central midfield, Osorio was forced to move Van Den Bergh into central midfield, where he just doesn’t win enough balls to be effective (though he put in some hard work there before sliding into a left back role following Parke’s red card).

Will the team be able to address these pressing needs before the April 15 transfer deadline? Scottish defender Chris Innes looks like a very good possibility to fill the need for a central defender but the team’s top defensive midfield target, Lider Marmol, doesnt’ look like he will reach an agreement with MLS, making the chances of him becoming a Red Bull remote.

What will Osorio do? He is desperate to add at least one or two players within the next month, including some potential post-transfer window signings, but his dreams of a swoop for his most coveted transfer targets appears unlikely.

And while there are plenty of issues for the Red Bulls to address, there were also plenty of positives to take away from the first game, including the performance by the one player Osorio has transferred into the team, Colombian striker Oscar Echeverry. The popular notion in some circles is that Echeverry troubles defense with pace (which is a fancy British way of saying speed for those keeping score at home). Calling Echeverry a player who relies on speed is misleading.

Echeverry is quick and deceptively strong, but above all he is shifty. His ability to maneuver in one-on-one situations using strength and shiftiness is his greatest attribute, not his speed. That isn’t to say he is slow but there are players who rely on speed, players who are shifty and players who are both. Echeverry is shifty/strong and a player who should work well with either Juan Pablo Angel or Jozy Altidore because he passes very well.

Lastly, goalkeeper Jon Conway deserves kudos for his performance on Saturday. He only had a few difficult shots to deal with but his command in the area and confidence in dealing with the few situations that came his way were impressive. There has been an air of confidence this year that you didn’t necessarily get from Conway in year’s past. Having a new contract and being the undisputed No. 1 goalkeeper for the first time in his career could lead to a breakout season for Conway.

Here are my player grades for the Red Bulls:

Jon Conway- 7- Steady all night

Kevin Goldthwaite- 8- Broke up countless attacks and scored a goal.

Jeff Parke- 5- On his way to a solid performance before two clumsy challenges led to his ejection.

Chris Leitch- 7- Steady and experienced, Leitch looked as good as he has in two years.

Dave Van Den Bergh- 8- Scored the opening goal, played three positions well, made a strong case for being kept around and for starting.

Luke Sassano- 6- Had some rookie struggles but his defensive work on the flanks merits recognition.

Claudio Reyna- 6- Started off poorly but came on stronger later in the match, providing an outlet for teammates and helping to keep possession.

Seth Stammler- 7- Put in some serious work all over the field, particularly in the second half as he tried to cover for the loss of Parke.

Sinisa Ubiparipovic- 5- Showed great promise early on but fatigue set in quickly and he lost his passing touch quickly.

Juan Pablo Angel- 7- Played with a hamstring injury but still put in tough work and helped create second goal. Missed penalty kick.

Oscar Echeverry- 7- Drew penalty and proved to be a handful all night.

Danleigh Borman- 4- Serious case of rookie jitters. He tends to do that, will either play extremely well or let nerves get the better of him. Has promise.

Share your thoughts on my player ratings, or any other topic I covered, in the comments section below.

This entry was posted in MLS- New York Red Bulls. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to My Take on the Red Bulls season opener

  1. AdamAlfi says:

    Here are my ratings:

    Jon Conway- 8- Clean sheet and had a couple of good saves

    Kevin Goldthwaite- 8- Broke up countless attacks and scored a goal. (Agree)

    Jeff Parke- 5- Very bad tackle!

    Chris Leitch- 7- Steady and experienced, Leitch looked as good as he has in two years. (Agreed)

    Dave Van Den Bergh- 8- Scored the opening goal, played three positions well, made a strong case for being kept around and for starting. (Agreed)

    Luke Sassano- 6- Did ok…I expect more and better from him!

    Claudio Reyna- 5- does not belong on the field. Everytime he touches the ball, I think “injury coming up!”

    Seth Stammler- 7- Put in some serious work all over the field, particularly in the second half as he tried to cover for the loss of Parke. (Agreed)

    Sinisa Ubiparipovic- 5- Showed great promise early on but fatigue set in quickly and he lost his passing touch quickly. (Agreed)

    Juan Pablo Angel- 8- Drew alot of attention, which freed others around him…should have done better with the point blank shot he had!

    Oscar Echeverry- 8- Effort! Non-Stop Effort!

    Danleigh Borman- 4- Serious case of rookie jitters. He tends to do that, will either play extremely well or let nerves get the better of him. Has promise.(Agreed)

  2. Ed Koch says:

    It doesn’t look like Red Bull is going to be able to keep Marmol.

    link to blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com

  3. understood says:

    as far as marmol and the mls is concerned…in a situation like this where multiple clubs want a player who isnt currently contracted to mls…why cant the mls handle these types of situations like mlb handles posting bids for japanese players…sit down with the clubs let them submit bids as far as what salary they would be willing to pay the player…then offer him to the clubs in order of who submitted the discovery claim first at the highest posted salary…

    so in this instance say the fire are only willing to pay marmol 120K…and the red bulls are willing to go up to 150K to get marmol…then marmol would be offered to the fire at 150K…and if they dont accept those terms then he should go to the red bulls

  4. MarkVA says:

    8’s this early into the season!? c’mon it was one game and an 8 says man of the match with few to no mistakes, and surely this early in the mls season these guys were fallible and made early season mistakes. and you don’t get a 7 for missing a pk no matter how much i love angel.

  5. brett says:

    understood- in all honesty, i would not object to that route… personally if the fire arent willing to fork over that amount of cap that the redbulls are then he should be able to go to the Redbulls…

    even as a fire fan i like that idea… both teams submit their ideal wage, the highest gets submitted through the fire, if the fire reject it then the redbulls get their chance….

    to be fair id say it would be a silent auction :D…. my opinion on it at least, but good show

  6. Yeah, 8s and 7s is kinda nuts.

    That game, to the neutral observer, was simply atrocious on both sides. Some of it having to do with factors like the turf, much of it having to do with the fact that both teams are poor.

  7. Original Aaron says:

    I know this post doesn’t really belong on this thread, but until a more appropriate thread is started today… I think it would be well worth making a trip to Barcelona for the Champions League semifinal. Can anyone tell me whether the game at the Nou Camp will be held 4/23 or 4/29?

  8. HerthyaBerwyn says:

    I like the proposal as well. However here is the problem. The first pick will always offer $1.91 so as not to risk bidding up. the Last pick will try to pick a number high enough to stretch those above but not to fall to them. Its a tactically manipulated system either way.

  9. Steve says:

    Hello?!? People?!?! Single entity!!!

    MLS is negotiating with the player versus valuation by the clubs why the speculation that NY wants to offer more. Is there any fact to support that?

    Though I do like the premise of understood idea of submitting valuation with discovery claims. The only issues is that MLS is still bringing in pretty obscure players and you’re sure to end up with some real duds at exorbitant salaries if you place valuations prior to getting a trial.

  10. Some of those scores look a bit generous to me Ives (for example I thought sassano was pretty poor – too many giveways)

    But overall a performance to be really happy with for wk 1.

    One thing I really liked seeing was JCO prowling up and down the sideline and actively coaching during stopages and stuff. What a welcome change to having someone sitting on their fat a$$ looking disgusted the whole game. It seems the team has really responded to the new coach well and it makes the whole situation much easier to route for.

  11. Javier says:

    i like JCO, but his last 2 substitutions bothered me…even without the Parke red, i still think that around the 75th minute, he should’ve taken out Echeverry and put in Mendes (or another defender)…a shift to a 4-5-1 at that point would’ve been the best move, especially considering we weren’t doing much on the attacking end at that point anyway.

    i simply didn’t understand using the last 2 subs on Woly and Magee, and before the 80th minute, at that.

  12. kpugs says:

    I would pretty much agree with this Ives. I came away from the game happy with the win and also well aware that there is much work left to be done.

    VDB, Angel and Stammler worked their asses off. I love seeing that from VDB especially because we all know his limits, but that didn’t stop him from working hard the whole match.

  13. Javier – those subs did not make a ton of sense to me either – I just think he wanted to get a look at those guys in game action. If he is adding players (as we all hope) some will need to go to make room, and I think he is trying to decide who goes.

  14. VictorM says:

    I’m going to rate Ives on his ratings.

    Goalkeeper – Ives gets a 6. Conway is competent between the posts, but his clearances are poor.

    Defense – Ives gets a 5. Goldthwaite was much better than last year, but that’s like saying someone in a coma is more alive than a corpse. And Leitch was only not terrible because he didn’t commit any major mistakes. This group benefited from a Crew that had nothing in them.

    Midfield – Ives gets a 4, mostly because of his opinion about Reyna. Reyna helps hold the ball in the same way that the ball boys do when they don’t return the ball right away. Reyna simply is awful. The man is done, over with… he’s like Paulo Wanchope against DC United. He has nothing left. He can’t play attacking midfield, and he can’t play holding midfield. In this game he had one nice back heal pass… that was it. When facing his own goal, Reyna is simply incapable of turning around and making a forward pass. Everything from him is a pass back. And the other team runs past him like he’s not even there. When it comes to Reyna, Ives is like Bruce Arena in 2006 — he simply won’t let go of one of “his” guys.

    Forwards – Ives gets a 9. Right on all accounts.

    (Does anyone ever get a 10 in these things?)

  15. Jesus Jones says:

    I give VictorM a 2 for not knowing his D from his elbow.

  16. Chris says:

    Victor, regarding if anyone ever gets rated a 10, Toldo, goalkeeper for Italy, was given a 10 rating in their Euro 2000 match against Holland. Saved 2 or 3 penalties durring the course of the match, and numerous other saved durring the run of play, and then in the penalty shoot out (the match ended 0-0 so went to penalties) he stopped more penalties. I saw many news sites (not just message boards by fans) gave his performance a 10.

    Holland were the hosts of that year’s Euro Championships too, so he did it in a hostile environment.

  17. JN says:

    Ives,

    Graham Jones of the LA Times is sort of implying that de Grandpre was pushed out at the Red Bulls. Is there any truth to this?

    link to fannation.com

    link to latimes.com

  18. aristotle says:

    Ives:

    You said: “the same team that Bruce Arena rode through a roller-coaster of underachievement in 2007.”

    Underachievement? How does a poor team that plays .500 underachieve?

    You act like this is a really good team?

  19. aristotle says:

    Ives:

    You said: “the same team that Bruce Arena rode through a roller-coaster of underachievement in 2007.”

    Underachievement? How does a poor team that plays .500 underachieve?

    You act like this is a really good team.

  20. Eugene says:

    How long will shifty last on turf before we get a blown ACL?

  21. Eugene says:

    My point of which was not to be negative on Etcheverry, who I thought was a very good addition to the striker corp and did well in his first game, only that the team needs to rotate its strikers and more importantly derive its attacks more from the midfield and the wings.

  22. Tim F. says:

    I thought the Red Bulls passed noticeably better as a team (compared to prior renditiions of this franchise) especially the first 30 minutes of the game against Columbus. Let’s hope the team keeps that up!