Red Bulls looking for fresh start in Champions League

RedBullsTrinidad

                                       Photo courtesy New York Red Bulls 

BY DYLAN BUTLER

MARABELLA, Trinidad – While their form back in the United States has been dreadful, the New York Red Bulls view their trip to Trinidad & Tobago as a chance for a fresh start, a possible rare bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season.

On Wednesday, the Red Bulls trained at Manny Ramjohn Stadium, named after a famed Trinidadian long distance runner, in preparation of tonight’s CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round opening leg against Caribbean champion W Connection (8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel, Galavision).

For many on the Red Bulls, this is their first trip to the southernmost Caribbean island and they’re hoping to leave their domestic doldrums back in New Jersey.

“I definitely hope we all take this game as an opportunity for us to make something out of the season,” Red Bulls captain Juan Pablo Angel said after Wednesday’s training session. “This is the first time this club is representing MLS internationally. We’ve got to make sure we do it right. We’re carrying the Red Bull flag for the first time outside this country in a very important competition.”

Thus far, Major League Soccer hasn’t fared well in the competition, in its second year of existence. Last year, the New England Revolution were thrashed by Joe Public, 6-1, on aggregate in the preliminary round and Chivas USA were downed by Panama’s Tauro, 3-1.

D.C. United went winless in the group stage and the Houston Dynamo were bounced in the knockout stage by Atlante, 4-1.

Already this year, Toronto FC fell to the Puerto Rico Islanders, 1-0, at home in the opening leg and D.C. needed a Jaime Moreno penalty kick to rally to tie Firpo of El Salvador at RFK Stadium.

The Red Bulls are attempting to join the Columbus Crew and Houston Dynamo in the group stage.

“For the short story that this franchise has, I think it’s important that it’s written in the right way,” Angel said. “Hopefully we make the most of it. Knowing that all the circumstances have been very difficult for us this year. This could be a great chance for us.”

The tournament is a good chance for W Connection, which currently sits in fifth place in the Digicel Pro League, to raise its profile internationally.

“It gives us an opportunity to be on the world stage, so to speak,” W Connection coach Stuart Charles Fevrier said. “The players are very motivated because in the Caribbean, it’s not often we get to play at that level.”

But its players also know that, despite their opponents’ woeful season, beating the Red Bulls will not be an easy task.

“They’re a dangerous team coming because they don’t have anything to play for in the MLS so this tournament is the tournament that can bring them a bit forward,” W Connection captain Elijah Joseph said. “They will be very dangerous coming and playing we at home.”

So who will step on the field tonight? It’s likely that Austrian Ernst Obster makes his debut and defender Kevin Goldthwaite will return after missing four games with a groin injury.

Not making the trip, though, are Carlos Johnson, who is targeting the return leg at Giants Stadium for his return, and Mac Kandji (hamstring).

While other MLS squads have used a mixture of starters and reserves in the Champions League, Osorio should place his strongest XI on the field tonight.

“We’re finally in a good position to select a team tomorrow,” Osorio said after training on Wednesday. “No disrespect to any of the players, but in the past trying to do a team selection from 13 or 14 available players was a tough task. Going into tomorrow’s game we have 18 players to choose from, which is very good.”

What do you think the starting XI will be? Are you excited about the opportunity or do you think the Red Bulls will blow it? Share your thoughts below.

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25 Responses to Red Bulls looking for fresh start in Champions League

  1. cbr says:

    all joking aside…once we get back all our players we may win a game before the season ends. at full strength and if JCO takes his meds we could look like this:

    —jpa–kandji–

    obster*–zimm-stammler-hall*-

    pacheco-ari gold-petke-johnson

    ———bouma—–

    * have them interchange positions as the game progresses

    it wont happen though

  2. Fulham Pete says:

    Mmmmmmm…crickets…

  3. guanaco20 says:

    This is the RedBulls’ season…..with nothing left to play for in the league, they have to go for it in the Champions League.

  4. yankiboy says:

    @guanaco20- Truer words have never been written. But I think that until they actually manage to get past W Connection (and I would NOT bet my paycheck on that one) they had better not be looking forward to the next round of the group stages. Red Bull have seemed to regress back to where they were when I saw them come down to play the friendly against Crystal Palace Baltimore in March.

    They might even be a bit worse now because their confidence is shot. They need a good result in the worst way…

  5. yankiboy says:

    I think that Osorio will pretty much start his bext XI (or maybe tinker a bit–shocker) and that they still struggle and not make it past W Connection.

    At a certain point, a coach has to realize that the situation might be a tad more complicated than “bad luck” and injuries. Those things certainly play a role but sometimes it might be those things and the COACH…

  6. Rossi is Judas says:

    This actually might be the best chance for an MLS team to do well in the Champions League. Since this tournament is now the priority for RBNY, they can put their strongest team on the field. No MLS team has done that since the inception of this tournament.

  7. CSD says:

    This is a massive international fixture. I have long wondered if the worst team in the MLS was good enough to be a middle of the standings team in Trinidad and Tobago.

    I like the CONCACAF Champions League but the dribble coming out the NYRB camp about this game is annoying. This is so important and it can save our season. Really so if you beat a team with 1/10 your payroll in the first round of tournament and finish with the worst record in the history of the your domestic league someone is supposed to pat you on the back?

  8. RS says:

    CSD: I totally see your point but what do you really expect them to say? “We are horrible and we all know we cant go too far in this tournament so we aren’t even going to try.”

    haha

  9. ga-gone says:

    damn… Kandji didn’t even travel. 4-5-1 it is… it’s worked so well on the road, surely it will work again.

  10. Joamiq says:

    No Kandji? Great. Let’s not kid ourselves – this will be another loss, and it’ll only be disappointing if we expect anything better.

  11. Branden says:

    Not to nitpick, but TFC did NOT field a side full of first stringers and reserves! The only player TFC started who wouldnt see playing time in an MLS game is Gomez, and he is showing promise. He started because Attakora and Serioux are injured, and Velez was atrocious in the Crew game!

    That being said, PR Islanders played their game to a t and TFC couldn’t get much going in the offensive third. Just goes to show how much they rely on Guevara for creativity (who was also injured).

  12. CH says:

    w connection 3-1 tonight

  13. sonicdeathmonkey says:

    RIJ, to be fair, TFC did put a first team lineup out there last night. Unfortunately, the results were still the same.

  14. lazer says:

    JCO should be fired. Angel should be benched.

  15. CSD says:

    RS,
    They could just say the standard we are looking forward to the challenge and not go on about saving their reason. If they lose now they are total losers after hyping this home/home series up so much. Expectations are already so low for their fans there is no reason to raise them to make the let down bigger. We all know they suck and this is their only opportunity to get any success from their season.

  16. Eric says:

    I have to say, I think the game is going to more dull than the DC champions league game but I feel like it’s going to be a train wreck for NY and I’m oddly compelled to watch.

  17. JFC says:

    gotta have faith…lets go redbulls!

  18. David says:

    I think it is killing Angel to lose so much. I think if the club doesn’t have a good showing in this competition he will try to move on next season despite just signing a new deal.

    Hope they show something tonight.

  19. SHOLATA says:

    Today, Guano Smith.

    tomorrow OsorryO

  20. yankiboy says:

    @David: If the club doesn’t do jack in this competition and continues it’s poor form, Red Bull will finally send him packing–He won’t need to “try to move”…

  21. Coach says:

    Other than pride, does it really matter if they progress to the group stages or not? Is there a significant financial reward invloved with television, etc.? Lord knows it wouldn’t be in ticket revenue for the extra games.

    And if there is a financial reward, do the participating clubs get to keep it all, or is it divvied up by MLS like everything else?

    If not, then only bad things can come out of this tournament, even if it is a “success.” It’s just another chance for these stooges in charge to get lucky and save their jobs.

  22. asenfan says:

    David,

    I am not sure where Angel would be moving to. I love the guy, but he has done nothing this year, and he can’t blame the lack of service for missing quite a few sitters.

  23. CoachK says:

    Hey Guys Hate to throw water on your parade but going out on a very small limb here..expect 0 That’s right more of the same except perhaps new spin like the T and T ref helped them? Bottom line I fully expect RB to quickly collapse once again. same old just a new plaCE TO EMBARASS US? 0 will change?! The season is OVER JCO and AGOOOS hopefuly soooon should all be loooong GOOONE that will be the only solution Perhaps Erik too he seems like another CLUELESS villiage idiot.

    Coach K

  24. lazer says:

    Juan Pablo Angel is a has-been. I am a huge Red Bulls fan but the honest truth is that you can’t win games when your captain “throws his hands up in the air” at every service. Honestly, he is not captain material and should have never been given that spot. We can not continue with him in the striker position. We need someone who is young and hungry…not someone who is a pre-madonna and old.
    Thanks for all of the goals Juan…but the party is over.

  25. Jo-Jo D'Hippo says:

    Angel IS THE MOST FRUSTRATED PLAYER in football.