Red Bulls’ Alexander excels as he grows into new position

Eric Alexander

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the New York Red Bulls, with stars such as Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill on the team, are in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.

What is surprising though, is that the team’s standout player in the last few weeks has been right midfielder Eric Alexander.

In the Red Bulls last two home games, Alexander has been a menace going forward, creating space for his teammates with his darting runs forward and tactical awareness. In addition, the 25-year-old assisted on the game-winning goal against the Houston Dynamo and scored the game-winner against the Montreal Impact last Saturday.

Despite not starting the first game of the season, Alexander has started every single match since, 19 in all, earning praise from his head coach Mike Petke and teammates each week for his efforts along the wings.

“I’ve been saying it all year,” Petke said following the win against the Impact. “I know for some reason Eric’s been getting some stick, whether it be from the media or the fans about not playing well, but to us he does very well and we’re very happy with his play.”

Against the Impact, who are now level with the Red Bulls on points with 31, Alexander took advantage of space on the right side of the field. In the 8th minute, the Michigan native cut past three players on a 40-yard run to score his second goal of the season.

“It was hot out, transition was tough for both teams, and there was a lot of space on the wings,” Alexander remarked. “I was getting good balls from my teammates and they were making good off the ball runs to give me good one-on-one situations.”

Just a few minutes later, Alexander took on Jeb Brovsky of the Impact again, turning the defender in and out before hitting a shot that caught the crossbar.

Though he’s been a regular all season, in the last two home matches, fans have seen a more aggressive and attacking minded Alexander, one who won’t settle for passes back or to the sides.

“If you want to go forward and turn, you can always do it,” Henry said after the Red Bulls victory over the Houston Dynamo on June 30. “Eric definitely has the ability and capacity to do it. We told him during the week, ‘you’re a creative midfielder, you have to create,’ and he did it, and we all have faith in him to do it.

“When he turns, there’s no way you can stop Eric Alexander.”

As Alexander excels, it’s important to remember that not only is he adjusting to a new team in a new city that’s across the country from his last team, the Portland Timbers, but he’s also adjusting to different position demands. While he said that he did play the position in Portland and at times for FC Dallas, he admitted that 20 games into the season, he is really feeling comfortable with his teammates.

“Overall I think I’m pretty comfortable now, knowing where guys expect me to be, and the movements I need to make,” Alexander said.

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12 Responses to Red Bulls’ Alexander excels as he grows into new position

  1. vavooom says:

    FC Dallas fans that know what they’re talking about all rue the day the club allowed Gorman to trade Alexander for Jeremy Hall. Eric scored one of the club’s nicest goals in its history, ironically, against RBNY and was a kid that showed huge upside. but, alas, that knucklehead Gorman got his way and traded for an injured player. So, very FCD.

    • Rees says:

      +1. People forget that McCarty was out for most of the 2010 season when FCD made their MLS Cup final run – Alexander was amazing down the stretch – good enough, if my memory serves, to earn a camp cupcake appearance that year.

  2. Pace says:

    Not sure why he gets so much flack. I like him.

  3. Aaron says:

    I was a fan of Eric’s when he was with the Timbers. Glad to see him doing well.

  4. seth says:

    alexander has been a standout

  5. Prettypenguin says:

    As much as I liked EA with the Timbers, I’m glad that he got this opportunity to play and grow his game. I hope to see even more from him as the season goes on.

  6. Bob says:

    The Red Bulls are in a tie for second place in the East, not first.

  7. slowleftarm says:

    Glad to see Eric Alexander getting some praise, he’s been solid this season and outstanding the past few games, including man of the match on Saturday.

  8. Drew says:

    Hope Eric continues to improve I remember watching him at IU after a few pints at Nick’s English Hut. Best of luck from Hoosier Nation!

  9. TomG says:

    I like Eric, but he’s really a CM, not a wing at all. He’s just not fast enough. If you listen to the R B players, they’ve been raving about his technical abilities all season and it’s true. He’s very skilled. I just don’t think he gives you the width and coverage needed from the outside spot.

  10. Yevgeniy says:

    I am a bg NYRB fan. I think Alexander is a great guy, a type of a player that you want to root for. However, he is a central midfielder, not a winger. He is havng an ok season at best. Yes, he had a great game vs. Montreal, but where was he vs. Philadelphia, vs. Colorado, vs Vancouver (3 out of 4 preceding Montreal)? Too much hype after 1 great game!

    • MetrofanNo1 says:

      Exactly, his goal was nice and he almost had another one. He justs need to show more consistency. Ironically also, he had an also very similar good game vs Impact early in the year at home. He comes and goes. He’s stuck in at RM because that’s where McCarty and Cahill belong