Monday, May 17, 2010

Red Bulls 0 Seattle Sounders 1 - A Look Back

We've all had a beautiful Sunday to absorb the Red Bulls first ever loss at Fortress Harrison, Red Bull Arena.  There is certainly no disgrace in dropping a 0-1 result to the Seattle Sounders, who are still one of the league's more talented clubs, despite their early season struggles.  For RBNY fans what must be more disappointing and more troubling than the loss itself is the inability of the Red Bulls to create decent scoring opportunities.  Apart from a Salou Ibrahim shot that rolled harmlessly past Keller's right post and a second half Brian Nielsen shot from outside the 18-yard box, I can't remember the Red Bulls posing a threat to the Sounders all night.  Defensively solid, but toothless in the attack.  This is becoming a bit of a pattern.

The game was a gritty, defensive struggle fought mostly in midfield that was decided with one moment of quality, when Fredy Montero got behind Mike Petke, controlled a long pass from Brad Evans beautifully, and slotted his shot under a helpless Bouna Condoul.  Our friend Daniel Feuerstein questioned the awarding of the free kick in the first place.  I haven't been able to go back and watch the incident, but let's face it - it was a free kick awarded at midfield and the Red Bulls lost focus for a moment - just long enough for Montero, who had come on as a sub, to burn them again.  Questions might also be asked about Condoul and how he allowed himself to get beaten at his near post from such a tight angle, but "in a way" (as Mr. Backe likes to say) you have to just hold your hand up and give Seattle credit for an outstanding goal.  Carl Robinson admitted as much in his postgame remarks.

[rant]OK enough with being nice.  Now on to the hate.  I have no love for underwear model Freddie Ljungberg, who spent 90% of his time bitching about various calls to the referees.  This guy is quickly cementing his reputation as one of the whiniest bitches in MLS. Please either get a skirt on or STFU.[/rant] 

Despite a 5-3 league record, the Red Bulls now have a negative goal difference.  One thing helping them at the moment is that the only Eastern Division club that seems willing and able to take advantage of the Red Bulls' dip in form and their offensive struggles is the Columbus Crew.  DC, Philly, Chicago, Kansas City, New England and Toronto all dropped points this weekend, something I noted when I spoke with Kevin McCauley on World Soccer Reader's Inside the Six last night.  Of course, Columbus now visits Red Bull Arena on Thursday, so maybe we shouldn't feel so good about that after all.

Before Red Bulls fans start to slide into the gaping pit of despair, let's take stock and remember where we were at this time last year, when we looked inept on both ends.  With a DP or two on the horizon and only a few weeks remaining until the World Cup break, RBNY is in fairly good shape - defensively solid if offensively unspectacular.  I suspect that we will continue to bite our nails and see a lot of these tight, physical defensive battles until reinforcements can arrive.  It's not easy on the nerves, but it's a hell of a lot better than being out of games by halftime. 

Now it will be up to Backe to get the players back to training and find a way to jump start an attack that hasn't looked especially potent since the MLS season began.  Could we see Salou Ibrahim - or even Juan Pablo Angel - left on the bench in favor of someone like Conor Chinn?  Both Montero and Brian McBride scored big goals this weekend as second half subs.  45 minutes or more on the bench could be just what the doctor ordered for our underachieving strike force.  Will Brian Nielsen, who has looked sharp in successive matches, finally go a full 90 in a league game?  Will the ineffective Dane Richards finally spend some quality time on the bench?  Expect the Swedish maestro to shake things up and make some significant changes for the Columbus game.  Mike Petke put it bluntly when asked what the Red Bulls need to do:
Man up, and put our balls to the wall, outwork the other team.
Indeed (God I love that guy)!

Personally, I'm going to blame this one on Viper who was busy entertaining friends at a sangria-fuelled lunch in the Ironbound and thus did not meet up with us at either MMM Bello's or Rio Criz pre-match (just kidding, big guy).  Personally I had a blast, with the beautiful spring weather allowing my son and I to take a stroll down Ferry Street, get a bit of shopping done (including a new US National Team shirt!), enjoy a superb lunch at Iberia Peninsula and still fit in time for plenty of pre-game booze at our normal hangouts.

One more thing.  For all the nonsense being written about Red Bulls' attendance, 17,900 fans were at Red Bull Arena last night, a more than respectable showing.  Unfortunately, a number of supporters, including the family next to us in 107, were delayed by a suspicious package scare at the Harrison PATH station.  I've heard rumors that both Spike Lee and Jack Nicholson visited The Paradise on the Passaic on Saturday as well, but have yet to see any photo evidence.  Can anyone help us out?  If true, it would be Jack's second visit to the Cathedral of Football in a month.  Let's get on that "Here's Johnny!!" tifo, shall we?
blog comments powered by Disqus