Monday, October 20, 2014

RBNY vs Columbus Crew : Au Revoir Thierry

So, our mighty Red Bulls needed a to win their final home match of the season to have any hope of avoiding a play-in game or, at the very least, playing said play-in game at home. Unfortunately for us, our mighty Red Bulls weren't so mighty this past Sunday and allowed the visitors from OH to boss them around the RBA pitch to no end (A player Crew player I've never even heard of scored not one, but two goals after only scoring one in his previous 14 MLS appearances). This result virtually assures our team having to play that mid-week play-in game away (either at Columbus or SKC).

The main thing to contemplate is that this very well could have been Thierry Henry's last game ever @The Cathedral of Football. The Red Bulls need to win at SKC in order to come in, at the very least, in 4th place. That would mean a home play-in game for us. Also, if Columbus loses to Philadelphia, we could conceivably come in 3rd, which would mean we would be in the playoffs proper. A third or fourth place finish would mean that we could pay homage to "Le Roi" at least one more time before he sails off into the sunset. But since we're usually total crap away, I can't see us winning at SKC and I can't see us winning an away play-in game (either at SKC or Columbus). But if this was, indeed, TH14's final home game for us, it was nowhere near a proper send-off. In fact, I would deem this a "That's So Metro" type moment. In other words, just about the correct ending for us.

Au Revoir Thierry! Vous êtes Le Roi ! Yeah, yeah, I know. Minor miracles do occur from time to time, so let us pray.

Please see the video above for the usual drunken comments/predictions. You're in a for a treat, as there is another shocking Matt Conroy rant in the (almost) full-time comments. Matt's a Top Bloke and "a prescient man" as this article points out. Another Top Bloke named Matt Kremkau is a fantastic photographer. Please click here to check out his photo album from this one (you can click here for the slide show). Many thanks to the rest of the fellows who stand with me in the usual spot at the top of 133 for another season of great drunken fun. We'll do it again next year.

That's it for now and it actually might be it until next season. Whatever the case, we'll see you soon enough @The Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (built by Makita). The big viper is outta here!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Red Bulls Beat TFC (Again), Clinch Playoff Spot a Day Later

Bover celebrates the Red Bulls' second goal

The New York Red Bulls have hardly done it the easy way, but they eventually found their way into the 2014 MLS Playoffs, thanks to a combination of their 3-1 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena and DC United's victory over Houston Dynamo on Sunday.

First half goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips, Ruben Bover and Dax McCarty combined to make it a fairly comfortable evening for RBNY, though they made things interesting by conceding a second-half goal to Jonathan Osorio and sitting back in their own half for large stretches of the game. Still, the result was never in doubt, and if Wright-Phillips had managed to convert just a few of the golden chances he had in the second 45 minutes, the final score would have been much more lopsided. The English striker continues to sneak up on the all-time MLS single season scoring record of 27 goals, but his pace has slowed considerably. Roy Lassiter may be able to rest easy after all.

Now the Red Bulls go into their final two matches - home to Columbus this Sunday afternoon then away to Kansas City - playing to avoid the first round play-in game and get a little added rest.

For Matt Kremkau's awesome photo set, click here. I was lucky enough to be down on the field with Matt and his brother before the match, as the unparalleled Michelle French once again sang the anthems. Here's a video of us goofing on her sound check. We're idiots...

We also had the immense pleasure of meeting one of American soccer's true gentleman, ex-Cosmos legend and current RBNY broadcast color man Shep Messing, before the game in the club lounge. Shep talked a bit about the Red Bulls, gave us some great stories about his Cosmos and Harvard days, and was just an all-around great guy. Most mind-blowing was his confession that he has watched and enjoys our stupid Viper's Nest videos - and would like to appear on one. Shep - let us know where and when and we will make it happen!

Meeting Shep

And here are pre- and post-game comments. In the incomparable Viper's absence, we did our best.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Union vs Red Bulls : Soggy Poop In Chester

Another massive road trip down to Chester, PA started off with the always fantastic Kegs & Eggs pre-match tailgate @The Cathedral of Football. Then there was another epic bus ride down.

Of course, the actual game ended in much disgrace, as these fucking clowns allowed a Philadelphia Union side full of reserves to steal a point at the death. But, hey, at least Mr. Petke was fired up.

Alrighty then! A CCL match in Montreal is up next (without several starters) and then it's back to League action against Seattle. I'm told another 8 points should see us into the playoffs so let us pray.

Please see the video above for the usual drunken comments/predictions. Please click here for my photo album (slide show here). Hope to see you all next Saturday @The Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (built by Makita). Later!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

RBNY vs Impact: Le Roi & The Guv'nor

It was Fortress RBA again as the New York Red Bulls posted a comeback victory to sink the bottom of the East Montreal Impact even deeper into MLS oblivion.

The Henry/BWP strike partnership continues to bear fruit as "Le Roi" scored as lovely a brace as you've ever seen him score. The other half of that partnership, "The Guv'nor" Bradley Wright-Phillips, continued his epic, League Leading goal scoring form, with a brace of his own. He's now shattered the all-time MetroBulls record (previously held by RBNY Legend Juan Pablo Angel) with his 20th goal this season. Clearly inspired by TH14, long may the "BWP Effect" continue.

No respite for the Red Bulls, as they are back in action tonight, in Concacaf Champions League action. Ryan Meara will be in goal and new man Saer Sene, who made his RBNY debut as a late sub for TH14, should make his starting debut. One thing is for sure, a win is an absolute must tonight if RBNY has any serious aspirations to get past the first CCL round.

Check out the above video for the usual drunken comments/predictions. Please click here for Matt Kremkau's photos form this one (slide show here).

Hope to see you all tonight @The Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (built by Makita). Git in RBNY!!!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Viper's Nest BPL 14/15 Season Kick-Off Extravaganza

No Red Bulls game this weekend, so we got together to celebrate the start of the 14/15 Prem season (mates). The Viper's Nest crew took a ride into deepest Dutchess County NY, to the picturesque Village of Pawling, home to the great Matt Conroy (aka Who Shot Sam).

I was a great day out! Several games were watched, lots of beer, scotch and lots of BBQ meats were consumed. There was even a drunken kick-around that quite possibly led to an ACL/MCL/Menicus injury (get well soon Kevin) and an Ice Bucket Challenge (or two).

Anyway, a great start to the season as Man U lost and Arsenal pulled out a 2-1 victory, with late goal heroics from "Welsh Jesus" Aaron Ramsey (there we are, above, celebrating the winnah). Unfortunately some of my mates' teams weren't so fortunate, as the great You Suck Corrales' beloved QPR lost to Hull City and Kevin's beloved Stoke lost to Aston Villa. Matt Conroy's beloved Chelsea plays tomorrow, in the Monday night game, and we all wish those blues luck (yeah, ok! ;) ).

Alrighty then! Click on the video on top for the usual drunken comments. Some photos from Matt Kremkau here. If you'd care to join our Fantasy Prem League, you can do so by clicking here. It's back to MLS action next Saturday as the Red Bulls have a massive home fixture (mates) vs Montreal. I hope to see you all @The Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (built by Makita). The big viper is outtahere!


Monday, August 4, 2014

RBNY vs Revolution : No Rhyme or Reason

What can one say about this NY Red Bulls team? These play possibly the worst half of football since the move to The Cathedral of Football, they go down a goal, go down a man and are booed off the pitch at half-time. They then return (a man down) with one of the best halves of football they've ever played at RBA, scoring two golazos and earning a 2-1 victory against the visiting Revs. It's ridiculous, yet true.

Coach Petke took full credit for that inspired 2nd half. One can only imagine what words, or methods, were used in his half-time rant. Whatever, it worked. If only these guys could be as fired up from minute #1.

Hat's off to the the Ginger Prince, Dax McCarty, for the sublime chip that leveled the score at 1-all and the sensational Bradley Wright-Phillips, whose game winner was his League leading 18th of the year.

Please see the video on top for the usual drunken comments & predictions. Please click here for Matt Kremkau's photo album form this one (slide show here).

That's it for me! Hope to see you all soon @The Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (built by Makita). The big viper is outtahere!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

RBNY vs Earthquakes: Still Not Able To Close The Deal

You talk about letting a sure three points slip from your grasp - wow! Another ridiculous defensive breakdown and the New York Red Bulls saw another late lead slip away in the dying minutes of regulation. Yes, it was two points down the drain and an end to Steven Lendhart's goal-scoring drought (you're welcome ya big douche).

While the Red Bulls created several great chances that should have bulged the proverbial "Onion Bag", one goal should have been enough to win this one. Shambolic attempted clearances, by Sekagya - then Alexander, allowed the Quake's "Lenny" his one moment of glory this season (in the 85th minute) and it was another 3 points squandered by RBNY.

What else it's there to say, it's definitely "On of Those Seasons". Yeah, playoffs, a bit of a run, anything can happen, yadda, yadda, yadda... Whatever! To be honest withcha, I'm not getting the vibe that this is an MLS Cup winning team. At the end of the day, let's just have a bit of a laugh about it this season and hope that the "Powers-That-Be" do the right thing for our glorious 2015 campaign.

Please click on the video top for our usual pre-game/half-time drunken comments and predictions. Click on the video below for post-game comments. Please click here for Matt Kremkau's photo album from this one (slide show here).

That's it for me! Hope to see you all next time @The Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (built by Makita). It's the big viper saying adieu, for now.


Monday, July 14, 2014

RBNY vs Columbus: King Thierry The 14th

It was truly the Thierry Henry Show at Red Bull Arena this past Saturday. On the strength of "Le Roi's" one goal, three assist performance, the New York Red Bulls crushed the visiting Columbus Crew 4-1.

Not only was this a landmark performance for TH14, with his on the field performance, but this one also saw the return of "Angry Henry". It was that persona that sparked a fire under the asses of the rest of his team mates.

It's another Player of The Week for Monsieur Henry. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his League Leading 15th goal of the season and our young defensive line got another game under their belt. Get all that shambolic defending out of your systems these season, please!

Please click on the video up to for the usual drunken comments and predictions. Please click here a for a great photo album, courtesy of Matt Kremkau (slide show here).

Philly away is up next this coming Wednesday, then it's San Jose @The Cathedral of Football on Saturday. Hope to see you all there. The big viper is outta here!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sharpening the Axe

Who will The Viper's Nest put on the chopping block?

With the World Cup close to completion, the nation's eyes will be returning to MLS and the Red Bulls. Okay, that may be overstating it a bit, but it is as good an excuse of any for a quick column on the state of the team.

The question posed was "If you were making a decision today, who on the roster do you cut and who do you keep?" The responses might surprise you (but probably not). Below you can see the decisions and a few thoughts on each player and those at the top of the org chart from Matt, in black; Tom, in red; and Big Viper in blue.

Andy Roxburgh
Keep     But Austria has to be concerned about his talent evaluation
Keep     Needs to step it up, but FO needs continuity & adult supervision
Cut        We need a GM that values creativity

Mike Petke
Cut         Hate to do this, but he is tactically naïve. We need an adult in charge. What do
               we do in training?
Cut         Still looking for any evidence of coaching skill. Suspect of "character" claims
Cut         Has lost the ability to motivate these guys. Again, need someone here who values

Andre Akpan
Keep     Bench fodder
Keep     We need to get younger fast
Cut        Totally useless

Eric Alexander
Keep     But only to play on the wing. Otherwise bench.
Keep     Needs a consistent role for long term value
Cut        Not the answer at all

Cut         Every game he's a red card waiting to happen. Would rather see Miazga develop if
               we're gonna suck.
Cut         Lots of mental lapses in coverage, major foul risk. Will miss the hair.
Cut         When Matt Miazga is better than you, there is no choice but OUT

Ruben Bover
Keep     Great in a sub role for now. Promising talent.
Keep     Jury is far from in, but glimmer of talent is exciting. Needs minutes
Keep     Pretty good sub option

Michael Bustamante
Keep     No reason to cut - has he even played?
Keep     Purely for Young MC joke
Keep     Showed good play in the few games he played last year

Tim Cahill
Keep     When he's here a key player for us. You can see we miss him.
Keep     The real leader of the team. Probably has 2 good years left for us
Keep     A "Get Stuck In" guy. He has been huge for us

Santiago Castaño
Keep     I guess. Third keeper.
Keep     Meara will go, so we need a backup
Keep     I can't rate this guy

Ian Christianson
Keep      Not sure if he'll ever play. Injury-prone.
Cut         Haven’t seen him yet and probably never will
Cut         Seems to have a broken metatarsal at all times

Bobby Convey
Keep      But only because we have no one else at left back at the moment. Massive
               disappointment, but I never expected much.
Cut         The Heath Pearce of 2014. Illusion of competence
Cut         Dude is total crap

Chris Duvall
Keep     Has looked decent in the changes he's had so far
Keep     Solid to strong in starting debut, defending and going forward. Could give us back
              what we lost with ridiculous Barklage cut
Keep     Our long term starter at right back

Richard Eckersley
Cut         Pricey GARBAGE
Cut         Number 1 reason to burn FO to the ground
Cut         Horrible

Thierry Henry
Keep     Probably his last season. Lousy way to go out.
Keep     Le Roi!
Cut        Gone next season anyway

Kosuke Kimura
Keep     Not great but he'd be my preferred backup to Duvall at RB.
Keep     Middle of the road player. Some bonehead moves this year, including horrendous
             foul in the box for a PK
Cut       Too much for a reserve Right Back

Connor Lade
Cut         If he can't get a game at LB over Convey he must blow.
Cut         Sadly. More of a Petke issue, it would seem. He will come back to bite us.
Cut         Has to get time elsewhere

Péguy Luyindula
Keep     Like his in MF, less so as striker.
Keep     Feelings change on him day to day. Does just enough to keep you optimistic
Keep     I guess

Dax McCarty
Keep     He's having a poor season by his standards but our best pure DM.
Keep     Losing Dax would be big blow to vaunted "consistency." Not sexy but solid.
Cut        Probably our best trade option

Ryan Meara
Keep     Solid backup to Robles.
Cut        Still think he may be better than Robles, but we can't keep him on bench forever
Cut        Might be worth something in a trade

Matt Miazga
Keep     Can we please see if he's better than our current central defenders? Can he really
              be much worse?
Keep     Keep for youth
Keep     Our Long Term starter at Center Back

Roy Miller
Keep     Never thought I'd say it but I hope he comes back soon.
Keep     Has done a great job for us. At least one more season here.

Marius Obekop
Keep     Why not?
Keep     Youth movement
Keep     Can't rate this guy

Jámison Olave
Keep     But he has no pace anymore. All bull-in-a-china-shop defending. Card after card
             and always a penalty danger.
Keep     Our best pure defender
Cut        He's slow as molasses and prone to give up bad PK's

Ambroise Oyongo
Keep     Great attacking skills, probably needs to work on defensive side of his game
Keep     Yes, 2 weeks ago had no idea who he was.
Keep     Our Long Term option at Left Back

Luis Robles
Keep     Less great in recent weeks but has kept us in many games. How sad is that?
Keep     So much more than we could have hoped for
Keep     Has been huge for us for two seasons now

Lloyd Sam
Keep     Pretty good season for Lloyd so far.
Keep     Good and getting better
Keep     Good to have a player like Sam

Ibrahim Sekagya
Keep     I guess. Not a huge fan. Big body, no pace.
Cut        Flashes of quality, but let's not kid ourselves
Cut        See Olave above

Jonny Steele
Keep     But only as bench depth. Not having a good season.
Keep     I'm a fan. Waiting on a big comeback. Needs minutes to produce
Cut        Has totally lost his Mojo

Eric Stevenson
Keep     Again, who?
Cut        No reason to say “yes”
Cut        I can't rate this guy

Bradley Wright-Phillips
Keep     Banging in the goals. Just a shame we're giving them out like Halloween candy
             at the other end.
Keep     Do I really need to explain this one? Can work on his passing
Keep     Scoring goals in bunches for us. Imagine if he had some creativity behind him.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

RBNY vs TFC : We're Back!

What can you say about this 2-2 draw? It was the proverbial 'tale of two halves', with the Red Bulls looking very good in the first and not so much in the second. We were seconds away from another home loss but Tim Cahill and Bradley Wright-Phillips came through, at the death, with a miraculous last-gasp equalizer.

Ambroise Oyongo, a Red Bulls player who had not seen the pitch in an MLS match got the start. The young Lad did very well. It was the youngest RBNY back-line I've seen in I don't know how long (maybe ever) with Matt Miazga, Chris Duvall and Oyongo all starting. It might be wise if Mr. Petke deems this season transitional and gives these guys a chance to earn much needed experience this season.

Please click on the video on top for our usual drunken comments/predictions. You can click here for a great photo album of this one, courtesy of Matt Kremkau (slide show here).

A great Friday night crowd @The Cathedral of Football for this one. Several RBNY games coming up next month (including the Arsenal friendly) so we're definitely back! The big viper is outtahere!


Friday, May 30, 2014

Is It Time to Start Rolling the Dice?

Should Petke Contemplate More Radical Changes?
So here we are - 14 games into the Red Bulls' 2014 MLS season. If the playoffs started today - and yes, I know they don't - RBNY would be on the outside looking in. They currently sit a disappointing sixth place in the East, but due to MLS' kooky schedule several teams behind them - notably Chicago and Toronto - have played far fewer matches. 

In Toronto's case the gap is an astounding five games. That's a potential 15 points that TFC could bank, thereby rocketing past the Red Bulls and into the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference. Even the Philadelphia Union, who are off to a horrific start, are a mere four points behind New York and level on games played. Montreal's disastrous season has them anchored to the basement, but then again they haven't played the Red Bulls, who give away points to bottom feeders like Easter candy - so there's hope for them yet.

Looking ahead, there aren't a lot of opportunities for RBNY to earn points in the short term. They will play just two league games between now and the end of World Cup group play, as MLS takes a two week break, with a US Open Cup match-up against the Cosmos sandwiched in between. But stop to consider the league opponents. First, New York play a resurgent New England Revolution team at Gillette Stadium, which has been a house of horrors for them over the years. Then Toronto FC comes to Harrison toward the end of the month. TFC will still be missing Michael Bradley, but the Red Bulls will likely be without Roy Miller and Tim Cahill, as they make their way back from Brazil.

By the time July rolls around, the Red Bulls could be well and truly behind the eight ball. So is it time for Mike Petke and company to start throwing the dice and shaking up a team that has been the very definition of turgid? This fan says yes. If New York is going to have any chance of making a second half of the season run into the playoffs they are going to need to be less predictable and put some of their underperforming players on notice. Despite a roster that boasts some of the league's best talent, New York is an easy team to game plan against. They always play some version of a 4-4-2. They play lots and lots of crosses. They like to play long balls over the top to Henry. But if you put pressure the distribution-challenged defense and midfield to create turnovers, and at the other end push players out wide - allowing the wingers play cross after cross to nobody in particular - you can beat them.

I am not privy to training sessions, and maybe the young guys just are not all they're cracked up to be, but I do find it hard to imagine that we don't have at least one central defender with pace and passing ability in the squad. Jamison Olave, having lost a step or two, has walked the line between defending and rugby tackling all season. Armando, when he isn't giving away penalties, is clattering into players and giving up easy free kick opportunities. Ibrahim Sekagya has all the pace and marking ability of a man carrying a piano on his back. So why not give young Matt Miazga a shot alongside Olave? Chris Duvall recently stepped in at right back and has done a creditable job. Petke should not be afraid to shake up the center of defense as well. Could Miazga be a bigger disaster than Armando? That's hard to imagine.

In midfield, it's clear that the Eric Alexander as central midfield distributor experiment has failed miserably. With Peguy Luyindula back in the lineup, and Jonny Steele continuing to struggle on the left side, Alexander should either be slotted in the starting XI on the left side in place of Steele or relegated to the bench. Ruben Bover is another option on either wing. He got the rare start in  Kansas City after acquitting himself well in the home loss to Portland, but was the first man  subbed off by Petke as the team struggled to create anything in the first 45 minutes. He may not be someone we want to pencil into the starting lineup immediately, but the Spaniard provides a good jolt of energy for a team that's lacking in movement and ideas.

For other young players in the squad - Obekop, Bustamante, Lade - now is the time for Petke to give them some meaningful minutes and start to integrate them into the club's long term plans. Henry is probably riding off to the sunset at the end of the season, along with a number of other seasoned players. The Red Bulls are going to have to rely more on youth in the coming years. They can either start preparing for that now, or throw them in at the deep end in 2015, when the league will be even more competitive.

As my good friend Brian recently said, this is shaping up to be "one of those years." So why not take a few risks now and use the rest of the season to see what some of the youngsters can do? Why not roll out something other than a "plug and play" 4-4-2? It's preferable to watching the likes of Bobby Convey and Richard Eckersley trudge through another match. The Red Bulls broke their trophy drought last season, and Petke has built up good will (some of which he has frittered away). I think fans would understand a bit of experimentation if it meant more success in the long term.

How do you feel as we roll into the summer months? Should RBNY stay the course and hope that warmer weather and more home matches will bring better results? Or is a shakeup in order? Let us know your thoughts.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

RBNY vs Portland Timbers: A Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Well, the Red Bulls did it again and treated us to a crushing home defeat. It really does seem like The Cathedral of Football isn't much of fortress these days, as our team has lost 2 in a row at home (an three in a row, overall).

It was a tale of two halves (again) with the Red Bulls having the better of play in the first. Several chances to put this one away were not taken well but, still, it was the home team that tallied first. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 10th of the season, from the penalty spot, and the "Boys In White" looked to be heading into the break up 1-Nil. Of course, a Jamison Olave brain-fart (just kick the fucking ball out of bounds, dude), coupled with Luis Robles getting caught "cheating" to one side of his goal, meant that Portland were level just seconds before the end of the first half.

Portland took it to the Red Bulls in the second half and Maximiliano Urruti, a pretty good Argentine forward, scored his second of the game. The Red Bulls had a few great chances to equalize after that but it wasn't to be.

As Tom Faust's brother (a Timber's Army guy in for the game) pointed out in my video, this was a self fulfilling prophecy by most of us in our group. Several of us called this one a loss (usually, it's only me predicting a loss), with a couple of guys rightly predicting a 2-1 Timbers victory. At the moment, this team just does not inspire confidence, even when at home. Sadly, RBA has become the destination of choice for any MLS team looking to jump-start their MLS campaign.

If there was a bright spot to this game, it was the play of rookie Chris Duvall at the right back spot. With Roy Miller w/the Costa Rican National Team, and both Kimura and Eckersley not being in top form lately, it was up to Duvall to deputize as a starter. He came through with flying colors, earning praise from the punters as well as from the press (More praise for Duvall in this one and in this one). It's only one game but we can only hope he has many more such outings in the near future.

I'd like to also give an honorable mention to the great play of Ruben Bover. Bover, who hasn't seen much of the field this year (which is odd since he had a great pre-season), came in as a sub, in the 76th minute, and had an immediate impact. Hopefully, Mr. Petke will reward him with a start in place of the out-of-form Eric Alexander. Or not. We'll see.

All righty then! See the top video for the usual drunken comments and predictions. You can click here for a great photo album, courtesy of Matt Kremkau (slide show here). An away match, @Sporting KC, is in the cards (this Tuesday). Let's pray for a favorable result. Will see you next time @The Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (built by Makita). The big viper is outtahere!