Monday, April 5, 2010

Red Bulls News and Notes: Condoul, Rodgers and Backe's Back

Despite his shot stopping heroics between the pipes during the first few games of the MLS season, Bouna Condoul is not a goalkeeper who inspires a ton of confidence in fans.  He tends to live on the edge, often venturing out of his penalty area or flapping at crosses.  When it's Bounatime he can be fantastic, but when it's not his antics can be a little tough on the old ticker.

On Saturday I was puzzled about why Condoul was ceding goal kick responsibilities to his defenders.  Though I assumed an injury was to blame, as Stefan Bondy explains it was simply a matter of the Red Bull braintrust having no confidence in Condoul's kicking technique.  Red Bulls goalkeeping coach Des McAleenan doesn't attempt to sugarcoat the problem:
I don’t mind going on the record about this.  Whoever was coaching Bouna before did a terrible job [...] Whoever it was must have been only interested in punching the clock and getting paid.  There is no reason a goalkeeper that’s been around to league should not have been taught these things.
Wow.  Comments like these help explain why we continue to see Jens Lehmann to New York rumors circulate.  It's hard to argue much with two clean sheets against two tough opponents, but clearly there are some issues to sort out.

Another rumor that refuses to die is the potential move to New York of Notts County striker Luke Rodgers.  According to the club's owner, Ray Trew, Rodgers has a tempting offer on the table from the Red Bulls and has requested a move to the States. The only thing standing in his way, it would seem, is his previous criminal record.  Rodgers, who has by most accounts formed an effective partnership with fellow slaphead Lee Hughes, seems to be a real handful in more ways than one.  Current Notts County manager Steve Cotterill (Hans Backe's replacement) said of his strikers:
They are a right threat the pair of them. I wouldn't want to be a defender playing against them, that's for sure.
Rodgers definitely seems to be the sort of player who is skilled at getting under opponents' skin.  Whether that and his offensive skills are enough to make up for the huge question marks hanging over his head is an open question, but if anyone would know it would be Backe.  Apart from the in-your-face style of Mike Petke the Red Bulls have seemed a bit lacking in the hard bastard department since Dema Kovalenko left town (and no, Pietravallo does not count - there is a difference between a hard bastard and a talentless clogger). Maybe that toughness and grit is something Rodgers can bring to the table, maybe not.  The bigger question is if Rodgers arrives who leaves?  My money's on Woly.

Finally, Bondy also reports that Hans Backe returned to oversee training today after experiencing severe stomach pains in Seattle, which could be the result of gallstones.  Backe was expected to meet with another doctor today to get to the bottom of the issue. Get well soon Hasse!
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