MLS Training Camp Preview: New York Red Bulls

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The New York Red Bulls will begin their journey toward the club's first MLS Cup title in Mexico, where the team's pre-season will hit full swing.

The regular season Eastern Conference champions are coming in off a busy off-season that saw the club's roster revamped and expectations raised for a team loaded with headliners.

Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez are embarking on their first pre-seasons with the Red Bulls, while U.S. national team striker Juan Agudelo prepares for an important season in his blossoming career.

For head coach Hans Backe, the challenge will be addressing the weaknesses that kept the Red Bulls from going further in last year's playoffs. From a defense that needed bolstering, to an attack that must adapt to life after Juan Pablo Angel, the Red Bulls are a work in progress despite being the odds-on favorite to win the Eastern Conference title.

Here is a closer look at the New York Red Bulls pre-season:

NEW YORK RED BULLS

Training Schedule: February 4-14 in Cancun, Mexico; February 14-16 in Guadalajara, Mexico; February 21-27 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; March 3rd to March March 11th in Phoenix, Arizona

Preseason Game Schedule: Feb. 15th vs. Chivas de Guadalajara at Omnilife Stadium; Feb. 23rd vs. Chicago Fire in Fort Lauderdale; Feb. 26th vs. Miami FC in Fort Lauderdale; March 4th vs. Sporting Kansas City in Phoenix; March 7th vs FC Dallas in Phoenix.

Key Arrivals: F- Luke Rodgers, F- Corey Hertzog, M- Jan Gunnar Solli, M- Matt Kassel, M-John Rooney, D- Sacir Hot, D Tyler Lassiter

Key Departures: F-Juan Pablo Angel, M-Jeremy Hall, M-Luke Sassano, M-Sinisa Ubiparipovic, M- Seth Stammler, D- Mike Petke, D-Andrew Boyens.

What to Watch for: The club is still searching for defensive depth, and the Red Bulls are believed to still be in the market for a centerback and right back. The team's ability to land a central defender will determine whether Hans Backe can deploy Rafa Marquez in central midfield, or if he will have to pair Marquez with Tim Ream. Carlos Mendes was a serviceable starter in central defense in 2010 but Backe has made it clear he's looking to upgrade the back-line.

Another thing to look for is how Luke Rodgers fits into the team and whether his arrival will slow Juan Agudelo's ascent into the starting lineup. With Agudelo, Rodgers and rookie Corey Hertzog, Backe now has some speed options to pair up with Thierry Henry, and he looks ready to use that depth to play more of a 4-3-3 in 2011.

Agudelo figures to eventually become a starter, but Backe appears wary of putting him under pressure too quickly. While that may be the case, Agudelo has all the makes of a breakout star in 2011.

The arrival of Solli has some wondering if he can make an impact like Joel Lindpere made in 2010, but first the Red Bulls must figure out where best to deploy the Norwegian midfielder/defender. He can play right back or as a winger or central midfielder.

Left back appears to be Roy Miller's position to lose, and the close will be watching closely to see if he looks more like the strong fullback from early in 2010, or the shaky liability the team saw in the playoffs.

Of Note: Marquez recently turned down a call-up by the Mexican national team to stay with the Red Bulls in pre-season. …Thierry Henry spent part of the off-season training with Arsenal. … The Red Bulls added two high-profile Homegrown Player signings this winter in Sacir Hot and Matt Kassel. While Kassel is the more well-known prospect to most Red Bulls fans, Hot is considered the player more likely to develop into an impact player. Hot is a member of the U.S. Under-20 national team. …Though it is still early in the pre-season, Backe is already drawing some comparisons between Tim Ream and Red Bulls rookie Tyler Lassiter, another left-footed central defender expected to provide quality depth in the back.

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51 Responses to MLS Training Camp Preview: New York Red Bulls

  1. Tony S says:

    man I can not wait for the season to start. I hope Henry and Marquez can stay healthy all year. I am anxious to see how rodgers and solli do and how they can help. I cant wait!

  2. Ben says:

    Up Red Bulls, up!

  3. Ben says:

    What about finding another mid and letting Marquez play in the back? The combo of Marquez and Ream would easily be the most stylish in the league.

  4. Lee from NYC says:

    +1

  5. radi0head says:

    why not just place tchani at dm? personally, i would rather see rafa as a cb only because at this point i feel that RBNY has more talent at midfield then defense anyway. depending on how solli plays, a tchani + solli midfield could be really interesting.

    personally i hope they switch to a 4-3-3 though :)

    (SBI-Tchani isn’t really a DM. He’s more a central midfielder, not a pure ball-winner. He’s strong on the ball but he’s more offensive minded than defensive minded.

  6. John in FL says:

    Sweet Jesus I get ot see them on the 26 and possibly the 23rd….Hope Lindpere will sign my jersey….

  7. radi0head says:

    anyone know if they are getting new kits this year??

  8. BJ's are the best says:

    NO John Wolyniec!!!?!?!?!

    (SBI-Well, technically speaking he left the team LAST year, not this off-season.)

  9. roger says:

    Red Bulls = good franchise = mediocre team

  10. maka says:

    haha Andrew Boyens… key departure… hahaha

  11. Lazer says:

    Key Red Bull Departures…..Lou Mari – Construction Manager for the Stadium. No one know how much this man did to get the Jewel of the league built.

  12. Standard_Deviance says:

    I’m inclined to agree, particularly because Rafa’s workrate in midfield often left something to be desired last season. And also because, as radiohead points out, the team has more depth at midfield than defense.

  13. conrad says:

    anyone heard the rumor: Anelka to Red Bulls!

  14. The Dude says:

    I hope Anelka comes in the summer. I’d love to see Anelka, Henry, and Agudelo play together. Not happy about Rodgers. And I hope Rafa plays CB with Ream. With Lindpere, Solli, Ballouchy, Richards, Tchani, and Rooney, we have plenty of good midfielders. Rafa is more effective from the back.

  15. patrick says:

    just in case you’re serious… he retired and last thing i knew he was looking for a FO job somewhere

  16. Tony S says:

    mediocre team? we shall see this year how mediocre they are.

  17. Bullish says:

    SBI,
    what are possible first XI’s at this point?

    Henry Rodgers
    Lindpere Tchani Solli Richards
    Miller Ream Marquez Albright
    Condoul

    Curious about how Nielsen, da Luz, and Chinn are developing…

  18. Thorpinski says:

    Henery is just over hyped he did nothing last year and will probably do little this year. MLS is much too physical for him. Agudelo will need to carry the load.

  19. Cosmos Forever says:

    I really hope you’re kidding…

  20. radi0head says:

    mediocre team? are you serious?

  21. ehhh says:

    irving for starting xi. he deserves his shot tho, saw him against juve in their friendly and he was top class

  22. Hutskizzle says:

    he got a job as a youth coach within the RBNY organization

  23. ciscokid says:

    Red Bulls can be best in East. Not sure they’re better than 4th in the West. Luckily the 34 game schedule will decide.

  24. golfstrom says:

    b/c Marquez is by far your best playmaker. You get a player w/ his passing and vision and people want to bury him in the backline. Doesn’t make sense. Put your two superstars in a position to link up.

  25. andres says:

    coulnt agree more

  26. john.q says:

    btw new red bull away kit is leaked:
    link to footballshirtculture.com
    look much better than last seasons and the darker blue is tight!

  27. Dan L. says:

    I hope Backe has a good plan to work around being without Richards, Miller, Marquez and Aguedelo during the Gold Cup. We will lose Hot And Aguedelo to the U-20 WC as well.

  28. Thorpinski says:

    I have posted 3 things that peolple have mocked me for.

    1. Last year I said Henery would be a bust and maybe score 5 or less goals

    2. Najar would be ROY

    3. Salgado would be #1 pick

    Granted the first one is the extreme of the group but I pretty certain he will flop again. I’m in the minority and don’t care if people hate it just my stupid opinion

  29. pete says:

    I’ve seen Kassel play over the years and he has prospered at the HS level, the academy level and the college level. I predict he will also prosper at the professional level.

  30. thMocker says:

    I’d like to mock you for posting things that people mocked you for.

  31. agnigrin says:

    We’ll there goes another $90 or so… I liked last year’s away jersey…. If they win wearing it then I will like it for sure!

  32. Thorpinski says:

    Thank You I think

  33. Cliff says:

    Where are they playing in ft lauderdale exactly would you know?

  34. Scott A says:

    Fair point, but it was a bit odd last year because Marquez had to be playmaker from the low midfield position. We didn’t (and still don’t) really have a traditional attacking mid so instead of linking up with one of those it often went to longer passes. It worked out some of the time, but I just don’t think doing the majority of the playmaking from that position is a winning strategy. With the players we have, we could presumably play a formation in which there is no traditional #10 but there is creating from multiple positions and overlapping runs. That could be fun.

  35. conrad says:

    You…are serious? Henry is overhyped. Because he is Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer before he went to Barcelona. Got it. Because he got little playing time at Barça and virtually no minutes in the World Cup, you deduce that he should be able to walk into MLS and score loads of goals.
    And Agudelo, who played 5 scintillating sub minutes in a playoff game, will carry the load.

    Can I get a hit of that?

  36. golfstrom says:

    There’s nothing wrong w/ deep-lying playmakers (Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Pirlo, et al.) especially when Marquez often played there for Barcelona. But as long as you don’t have an attacking playmaker, there’s even more of a need for Marquez to play in midfield imo.

  37. Joamiq says:

    Uh… it’d be more accurate the other way around. Mediocre franchise (historically at least), good team.

  38. Joamiq says:

    I would love to see Nielsen or da Luz step up on the left so Lindpere could play in the middle. Lindpere makes things happen when he’s in the middle.

  39. Scott A says:

    You could be right, but Xavi’s got Iniesta and Messi to link up with Villa and another forward and Madrid’s got other good link-up guys between Xabi Alonso and their forwards. It doesn’t seem to me like NY has that, not much in quality obviously, but link-up in advanced central positions kind of players. Maybe one of Lindpere, Paullo, Solli, Nielsen? Seems like it would be an ideal fit for only Paullo who’s pretty unknown at this point, and Ballouchy, who has his plusses but also his minuses.

  40. Creige says:

    In Europe it seems money buys you championships. In the MLS, it buys you marketing. Red Bulls with the most bloated payroll won’t get past the Eastern Conference finals.

  41. Joamiq says:

    You might want to do a little research before you go spouting off about things you don’t know about. LA’s payroll last year was more than twice that of NY, and Toronto and Seattle were right behind NY. Until you demonstrate that you know something about MLS, I’m going to take your prognostication with a fistful of salt.

  42. Tim F. says:

    I can’t wait for the season to start. The last game left a bitter taste in my mouth… really uncharacteristically poor defensive performances by Miller, Marquez, Ream and Richards and to some extent Mendes. I don’t know why Soler and Backe aren’t looking for another left back unless they feel Borman is ready to step in if Miller struggles.

    Convey schooled the Red Bulls; Marquez, Richards and Ream weren’t in his class that game.

    I hope the whole team stays healthy especially Henry, Marquez and Lindpere. I hope Solli is an impact player and I hope that Agudelo and Tchani get plenty of playing time as I think this will help the team in the long run.

  43. John in FL says:

    No clue but I’ll be researching it for sure.

  44. Knowles says:

    It’s refreshing to see a player like Marquez turn down a national team call-up to focus on preseason. That should be a headlining story in itself–how many big-name DPs in the past have truly put their MLS club first?

    Even with all the history Marquez has against the US while on the Mexican national team, it’s impressive to me that he seems intent on showing actual dedication to his club team.

  45. tbecker says:

    I’d like to mock your spelling of Henry…..

  46. Thorpinski says:

    I would like to thank you for mocking my spelling of Henry. I’m not a great speller but Henry is one I should get right.

  47. anon says:

    You didn’t pay much attention to that playoff series, did you?

    Agudelo played 90 the first game, 83 the second. But, you know, feel free to assert whatever enters your misinformed mind.

  48. RealDJones says:

    totally agree with you re: Marquez.

  49. Chris says:

    I can’t wait for this up-coming season. It seems like they haven’t played in a year.

    I also like their new away/2nd choice shirts, and I will buy one.

  50. packy says:

    Yes, I saw that Juve game also and was impressed by Irving Garcia. Hope he gets a good shot.