Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Time Is It?

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I've just returned home from tonight's difficult-to-digest 1-1 draw to Houston. Most of the initial post-game response from fans at Red Bull Arena, including mine, centered on Coach Backe's decision to start Medhi Ballouchy over newly-acquired Dwayne De Rosario. That is what I was focused on in my post-game comments (expect Viper's videos to be posted soon.)

Having time to think about it on the drive home, though, I can't help but come to the conclusion that there is another clear reason that we gave away two points tonight; it wasn't just the goals we failed to score, but it was also the goal we allowed that led to the disappointing result tonight. The more I think about it, it was that one play that summed up everything wrong with the otherwise very good Bouna Coundoul.

First, Houston's scoring play was launched by a goal kick. I repeat, they scored off a goal kick. Following the match, Coach Backe said, "Conceding a goal from a goal kick should be impossible in today’s football." At least I know I'm not the only one who was flabbergasted by this. The reason the Red Bulls conceded a goal from a goal kick was because of Bouna's bewildering decision to come off his line. (Maybe he thought he was going to dive and rip the ball off the feet of his attacker, as he did once last season.) That choice turned what should have been a fairly routine collection of the ball into the tying goal for Houston.

This single play managed to highlight, for me, the weakest parts of Bouna's game. First off, the goal kick. It's not just that we gave up a goal from a goal kick. That speaks for itself. What really angers me is that, if the ball was going the other direction, we could never, NEVER score a goal from a goal kick with Bouna in the net. Bouna can't kick goal kicks. I mean, literally, he can not kick them. Last night, Bouna just distributed every goal kick opportunity short to a nearby defender. Anyone who watched last season will remember the number of times Mike Petke and Tim Ream had to take the kicks. It was a reason to celebrate if Bouna took the kick and it crossed midfield. The fact that we were scored on from a goal kick just rubs salt in the wound that Bouna could never hope to return the favor.

Then, on the other end, we saw a classic instance of Bouna's sometimes-bizarre decision-making. His choice to come off his line led to the goal, plain and simple.

I don't know when Greg Sutton will be declared fit to return to play, but one thing is clear: Bouna was given a chance to stake his claim to the starting goalkeeper job and he failed. When Greg is ready to play, he deserves several matches to solidify his position as the number one goalkeeper. Meanwhile, maybe Bouna can spend his time working on his goal kicks.
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