Red Bulls 2, Real Salt Lake 0: A look back and a look ahead

Jon Conway 2 (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                         Photo by ISIphotos.com

Now that we have let some days pass since the Red Bulls convincing 2-0 victory against Real Salt Lake, we can try and take a more measured and reasonable look at the team's first win of the season and what real trends we can draw from it.

By now, much of the hype following Saturday's result will have subsided some, which is a good thing considering what was being said after Saturday. Some of the same Red Bulls fans who were questioning Juan Pablo Angel's drive and thought Kevin Goldthwaite should be waived are now calling Angel the best player in the league again and saying Goldthwaite could be an MLS all-star.

Swings in perception like those are par for the course for a club that has put its fan base through hell for the better part of 13 years. Let's put the team's performance into perspective as the club prepares to face Eastern Conference foe Kansas City on Thursday night.

While Macoumba Kandji and Kevin Goldthwaite were the players receiving the most praise after Saturday, there were plenty of other promising signs to take away from the RSL match. Here are some:


Jon Conway's presence boosts the back-line

It must be said that the addition of Alfredo Pacheco was clearly a big upgrade for the Red Bulls defense, the return of a confident and focused Jon Conway provided an even bigger boost. While Conway isn't known for making the crazy acrobatic saves (though he made some good ones Saturday), what Conway does is instill confidence in his back-line because he is constantly communicating with his defenders to put them in good positions.

While Cepero is a promising young goalkeeper, he lacks the experience to command a defense. He's too busy making sure he's taking care of his own positioning and responsibilities. With the Red Bulls lacking a truly vocal leader among its defenders (Mike Petke is close but is out of favor right now), Conway's ability to organize should help the Red Bulls defense come together.

Jorge Rojas had more room to operate

With Dane Richards and Macoumba Kandji providing dangerous threats in attack, the Real Salt Lake was stretched apart enough to give Jorge Rojas more room to roam than he has seen all season. The result was a more involved Rojas, who showed confidence on the ball and moved around well. He didn't notch a goal or an assist (though he came close with a beautiful free kick), but Rojas certainly gained some confidence from the performance and could be poised for better efforts in the near future.

Khano being Khano

There are few players more frustrating to watch than Khano Smith, who seems to float in between states of dedication and aloofness that leave you wondering just how committed he is to the team. Could it just be his laid-back island demeanor? Whatever it is, there is no denying that he goes through phases when his play just isn't good enough.

Here's the thing though. He also has moments where he can dazzle. Whether it's winning a header in the area that nearly led to an Angel goal, or trying to slide a perfect through-pass that nearly found its target, you can see the signs that made Juan Carlos Osorio believe he can mold Smith into an impact player. If Smith can't make the necessary changes, Danleigh Borman or Jorge Rojas very well could wind up on the left flank.


Goldthwaite's rebound

As hard as it is to believe that the same player who stunk up the joint vs. Seattle in the season opener is also the same central defender who put together one of the better defensive efforts in recent Red Bulls history, the truth is Goldthwaite is capable of being that good. No less a critic than Juan Pablo Angel has stated repeatedly that he thinks Goldthwaite is one of the league's most underrated defenders and worthy of a national team look. Such talk might sound like nonsense to some, but Goldthwaite's performance vs. RSL show why Angel is such a fan.

Angel battles the pain

Juan Pablo Angel tried as hard as he could, but he couldn't hide the fact that pain in his back/hamstring was affecting him, and has been affecting him this season. It gets a bit easier to play with pain when you actually have some service coming your way and a forward next to you who can pressure defenses.

If the midfield can keep playing like it did on Saturday, and Kandji can continue to impress, not only will Angel find his goal-scoring touch, but he may even be able to sit out a game here or there to rest his 33-year-old frame.

So what should we expect from the Red Bulls on Thursday? As good as they were vs. Real Salt Lake, you can expect several lineup changes, which makes sense considering the team has a crucial home game vs. D.C. United on Sunday. Carlos Johnson will step in for suspended Jeremy Hall, while Juan Pietravallo could be called on to start and build on his solid showing vs. Houston two weeks ago. Danleigh Borman is another player who should get a start on Thursday.

Here is a potential lineup vs. KC:

————–Angel———–Kandji————

Borman————–Rojas————Richards

——————–Pietravallo——————

Pacheco–Goldthwaite–Mendes——Johnson

———————Conway——————–

What do you think of the Red Bulls performance on Saturday? What stuck out for you? What are you hoping to see from the Red Bulls on Thursday? Which players would you like to see included in the starting lineup?

Share your thoughts below.

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36 Responses to Red Bulls 2, Real Salt Lake 0: A look back and a look ahead

  1. MikeK says:

    I don’t think Pietr will be back there alone. JCO has said before that he doesn’t think he plays well without some support next to him. I don’t think he has the distribution.

  2. gas huffer says:

    I’d like to see M’buta get a look over Richards for one game.

  3. DC Josh says:

    Angel is definitely missing a step this year. Him and Kandji up top is still a dominant duo.

    I’m looking forward to getting a better look at the bulls with their full squad. We will see them twice this weekend. So after Sunday we will be able to see what kind of team they really are.

  4. cammiev says:

    Your comments about Khano come as no surprise,considering his history with the Revs. He always seemed to function best as a sub… at his best,his energy and speed could be hard to handle in the second half. About Petke, I always thought he’s one of your better defenders…the debacle in Seattle wasn’t his fault, it was a team effort. So, why is he out of favor with Orsorio?

  5. johnny fc says:

    aah so thats why i saw angel doing some solo streching pre game and why they took him out. also whats up with this double header rbny plays dc united this weekend at home.

  6. kahlva says:

    That’d be a fine staring XI if the very mention of Pietravallo’s name didn’t make us all throw-up a little in our mouths.

    To actually be considered more than a ridiculously paid bench-warmer, Pietravallo needs to:

    – solidify the back
    – not hack anyone’s legs out
    – NO CARDS
    – actually pass to our team, instead of to the other team
    – Not get lost on set pieces/crosses (he’s done that a lot)

    But I agree MIkeK- JCO stated that Pietravallo needs to team with someone, so I doubt you’d see him alone in a sweeper position. Stammler or Sassano is more likely (hopefully)

  7. GR_RBNY says:

    Conway’s communication is so much stronger than Cepero’s that my Pops watching at home could tell the difference. Being in attendence it was obvious, but to have that convayed over the TV, truly shows it.

  8. SayervilleFC says:

    Ives, agree with your points about Khano Smith, though at the risk of seeming pedantic, I must point out that he can’t have a Caribbean demeanor, laid-back or otherwise, because he isn’t from the Caribbean.

    Though it is an island, Bermuda, is closer to Manhattan than it is to the Caribbean Sea or any of the island nations in the Caribbean.

    Bermuda is about 650 miles due east of North Carolina’s OuterBanks, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s about twice as far from Bermuda to the Caribbean.

    To get back on topic, Khano sure is maddenigly inconsistent and when Johnson, Pacheco and Richards are all healthy anc available I’d like to see Osorio play Richards and Jeremy Hall at the wide mids and have them switch sides through the game.

    Hall played LM at Maryland and Richards has played on the left a little for the Red Bulls – remember that great goal he scored against LA where he attacked down the left flank? I think that gets more consistency on the field for NY and lets Smith come off the bench where he doesn’t have to worry about having his intensity for 90 minutes.

  9. THE Nick says:

    I HATE Goldy. I actually thought he showed a bit of promise with Houston the first time I saw him play in one of them pre-season cups two or three seasons ago, but while he’s been in NY, he’s stunk up the joint. I’d play Petke and Mendes in the middle. Smith was a crap pickup. He’ll never be a solid 90 minute player here. And they NEED to find a way to get Angel’s back in order. How can they continue to train on turf if it is affecting him so much? Why would they give him a multi year deal if they knew his back was THIS fragile? It sounds as if he can barely go another season….

  10. Coach says:

    Conway’s impact is definitely understated.

    Seems like it’s always feast or famine with Goldthwaite; no in-between.

    Sold on Kandji. Sold on Angel. Still not sold on them as a tandem.

    Midfield is still one of the weakest in the league, especially the left side, and we still lack a true playmaker (i.e. still not sold on Rojas though he is dangerous in dead-ball situations).

  11. Ives says:

    Fair enough Sayreville. I changed it to “Island” instead of Caribbean.” Also, I wouldn’t hold my breath on seeing Jeremy Hall on the left wing. Yes, he played there in college but it’s not his natural position. his natural position would probably be right wing, but Richards is there.

  12. Chris says:

    I don’t know. Maybe I need to watch the match again or something, but when I was at the stadium I was just as frustrated with Rojas as I was in all the previous games. Other than the free kick he had where he hit the post I didn’t think he did much at all for the team. I was more frustrated with him than I was with Smith. Really wanting to see a mid of Hall-Celades-Stammler-Richards at some point (though it seems like Osorio has absolutely no intention of every playing Hall at left mid)

  13. Mark says:

    I was going to point out that Bermuda is nowhere near the Caribbean, but somebody already beat me to it.

  14. inkedAG says:

    I don’t know about RBNY fans saying Angel is back to form and Goldthwaite is All-Star. Perhaps pleasantly surprised that the team did something for once.

    In my estimation, Goldthwaite still stinks, Juan Pablo is feeling the effects of the fake surface @ Giants Stadium, JCO should still be fired and this team is being one injury away from being terrible like they were in the beginning of the season.

    That is what bothers me most. If we spent the off-season and pre-season looking for depth, why was the team so G-d awful for the first for games? Other teams may lose a player here or there, but they can still compete. RBNY/Metro? Not at all. And that is completely unacceptable.

    I will not be satisfied until RBNY starts dominating for more than one game at a time.

  15. mar says:

    consistency my friends, consistency…………..

    only time will tell……. (as far as Khano Smith, ONCE A REV always a REV, I say we get rid of the spy that infiltrated our TURF (artificial TURF)

  16. Pico says:

    I just hope that Osorio does not start employing a 4-5-1 formation when going on the road.

    Ives, do you know if there are any success rate statistics for 4-4-2 teams that use a 4-5-1 on the road? I seems to me that it is a self-defeating strategy.

    Cheers

  17. CoachK says:

    CALLING ALL Red Bull FANS!!!

    Just found out some terrible news? What is Red Bull thinking or drinking in Head office???

    Ok after waiting some 10+ years for our great stadium to be built.. NOW they find out that they actually DO NOT HAVE ANY PAKING??? i KID YOU NOT TO DATE ONLY SOME 200 SPOTS ARE PLANNED???

    If they really think everone will take mass transit..meaning NJ Transit,then wait for PATH (unreliable) then walk some 10 minutes to the stadium?? In other words a 30 min car ride is replaced by a 45-60 min commute??

    HELP IVES please tell me I am wrong??

    What is Red Bull doing?? They will NEVER fill that stadium???

    Coach K

  18. smorebs says:

    Honestly, I don’t think RB need a “play maker” and I don’t think Osorio thinks so either. The Ideal lineup right now may be:

    ———–Kanji—Angel———-
    Rojas—Stammler-Celades–Richards
    Pachico–Goldie—-Petke—Johnson
    ————–Conway————–

    Both Stammler and Celades can create and destroy and Rojas and Richards can create from the wings. While this doesn’t take advantage of the RBNY Track Team, I think they are mostly better used as subs right now, at least until they learn to play together and can get the defensive responsibilities worked out. The Second Team would be as follows (and As needed)

    ———–Wolly—Oduro———-
    Smith—Pietravalo–Sanaso—Mbuta
    Borman—-Mendes—-Boyens—-Hall
    ————–Cepero————–

    Yes, this is actually holding to a strict 4-4-2 but, all these player allow for the formation to be changed on the fly. I can actually see 2 players at every position for once and all seem to be able to contribute well and challenge each other. Those calling for JCO’s head are jumping the gun, wait until the summer to make any judgment as it is clear RB has faced some of the better teams in the league in their first few weeks.

  19. smorebs says:

    @CoachK have you ever been to Harrison? There is Tons of parking in the stadium area and the town of Harrison is creating more. Parking will not be an issue, only tailgating will.

  20. three11stu says:

    There is not a lot of parking either at Rio Tinto. Everybody has to take mass transit, or park far away and walk. I have to drive 40 minutes to get to the stadium, and then I have a 20 minute walk so that I do not have to pay 10 dollars to park my car close every game.
    But I love my team.
    GO RSL.

  21. sean monaghan says:

    “Goldthwaite is one of the league’s most underrated defenders and worthy of a national team look.”

    right,and I should be president

  22. lou says:

    Ives in that lineup above i would replace peitrovallo with stammler for sure. I read a practice report today that said richards and khano weren’t practicing with the first team, in their place stepped up mbuta and borman. This means that maybe osorio is finally catching on to what players exactly are brining our team down, and finally is taking them out of the lineup. I also heard Celadas is injured still and won’t play until the game against san jose (sounds like a spainish version of reyna).

    I understand Angel’s back hurts, but i think every year he is getting worse and worse and doing less and less to help the team out, he is undoubtedly a great player but he is declining. Goldthwaite made some incredible defensive plays but a few of them were because he was caught out of position.

    Khano is horrendous, i continue to hear about his athleticism but he has not beaten anyone to any ball and so that leads me to believe that athletically he is average at best. I also haven’t seen him do anything dazzling yet so I guess i’ll continue to wait.

    Rojas may be playing better now but that is because he has better players around him, naturally you can only go up in a situation like that. The truth is he isn’t great, and never will be, he isn’t a long term solution for a CAM. However if he got even worse after these new signings than that would really be a case to worry over.

    Also a little side note what about giving macoumba the nick name “MAC 10″ after the popular firearm. His name works perfectly and his number is 10, it’s a match made in heaven.

    My lineup for this week would be something like this

    ————–Mac———-Angel———–
    Borman————Rojas—————Mbuta
    —————-Stammler——————-
    Pacheco———Goldy——Mendes—Johnson
    —————Conway———————-

  23. LittleRockAnt says:

    I’ll agree Angel did look like a totally different player next to Kandji. Goldthwaithe is so darn inconsistent. Why doesn’t Oduro get any PT? I still see nothing wrong with Khano’s play. He hasn’t received the balon in a place to do anything with it very often. Rojas has looked horid. Celades looked great in his short time on the field. I can’t wait to see him some more.

  24. Andrew says:

    You all are buying in to that performance WAY too much. Angel was being defended by one of the worst defenders in MLS (Horst) because Olave was out. I applaud Goldwaithe’s effort, but that should have been a goal (it crossed the line). Don’t buy in to this at all.

  25. joel says:

    Good Call. I would go with Borman at left wing.

  26. CoachK says:

    Hi Smorebs

    Yes I have been around Harrison and do not forsee anywhere near enough parking??

    They are supposedly building some 200 parking spots only? No tail gate..thats no fun either. Com’on we waited 10 + years and this is the BEST we will get? NY/NJ should be one of the premier spots Instead we get a half baked plan with 10+ years to complete? The Mets and Yanks took one year why is it taking BRB 10? Poor poor planning all around!

  27. Juice McCoy says:

    Stammler should start, and Dane Richards is not a soccer player, he needs to be traded, he’s far more frustrating to watch than Khano Smith.

  28. KCB says:

    Hillcrest Road
    Take Me Home
    To the Place
    Where I Belong
    KANSAS CITY
    Wizards Country
    Take Me Home
    Hillcrest Road

    Just getting warmed up for tomorrow night. C’Mon You Wizards!

  29. Former Senior Executive Vice President of the North American Precis Syndicate says:

    I, for one, have no intention of ever driving to Harrison from Brooklyn. I am looking forward to taking Mass Transit to the Stadium.

    If you want parking, there are several lots a few blocks away within walking distance.

  30. kofix5 says:

    I drive from Brooklyn to the Swamp for every game and let me tell you, me and my girlfriend curse driving into Jersey every time. Hate driving to Jersey. Its a real pain in the ass. Plus 8 bucks in tolls.
    Tailgating, drinking beer, and grilling up some good food makes it loads of fun after we get there.
    Honestly I wish NY RedBull was in NY. But maybe the train will ease the pain when they’re in Harrison.
    Or maybe I’ll switch allegiance and go to the FC New York games instead when they are playing at Columbia and Icahn stadiums.

  31. Joseph says:

    I absolutely can’t believe anyone mentioned the great performance by Pacheco.

    He unlocked Smith, bolstered Goldy, and marauded & overlaped.

    I’m hoping he can really be the next vandenbergh, and so far I really like what I see.

    When Celades & Pacheco come through, hopefully that will unlock a lot of the elements of the team that have been dormant like Rojas & Pietravallo.

  32. Michael F. - SBI MAFIA ORIGINAL says:

    Say what you want, Goldie and Petke need to be replaced with starters. They are fine for depth on the roster, but it’s time to solidify the middle defense. I do like where we are and the options at outside back though.

  33. ga-gone says:

    CoachK,

    How many complaints are there about parking at Yankee Stadium? Or Madison Square Garden?

    Get on the train and stop whining you deadbeat.

  34. TBrodie says:

    There’s an abandoned train station in Harrison on the Morris & Essex Line (midtown direct) that closed back in the 80’s.

    What do we have to do to get NJ Transit to reopen it? It would make the stadium a whole lot more convenient for those of us who live west on that line.

  35. Jimmie says:

    WOW!

    1st goal should not have happened and Richards should have been called for the foul on Horst.

    RSL goal that Goldy “cleared” had already crossed the line before he kicked it. RSL 1-1 and with the advantage. However, it should have been 1-0 for RSL.

    Face it, the refs handed RBNY a win.

  36. Joamiq says:

    Jimmie: You are hilarious. Thanks for making my day. Man, I love stupid sports fans.

    CoachK: Calm the hell down and wait for the stadium to open before you start complaining. I for one am looking forward to taking the Path.

    /end cantankerousness