Monday, July 18, 2011

Chivas USA 0 Red Bulls 0: Draw, Draw, Draw, Draw, Draw...

Are We Seeing a Return to "Drop Deep" Thierry?
11 draws in 21 games. It's not normally the kind of form that wins a team a championship. But then again this isn't just any league - it's MLS, where more than half the teams make the playoffs and the biggest trophy is mostly a crapshoot. In fact, the playoff system itself may go a long way toward explaining the explosion in ties this season. Hey Don Garber, if you're not paying attention, you should be!

So despair not, Red Bulls fans. There may still be a cup at the end of the rainbow, but it won't be a Supporters' Shield and it certainly won't be the US Open Cup. Remember that last one? It was the tournament Hans Backe couldn't commit to, because he had to focus on Saturday's game against Chivas USA - a match in which they failed to score and didn't look especially threatening. Apart from one rattled crossbar to each side and a couple of decent saves by Dan Kennedy, there was nothing to get excited about for those watching at home or the paltry crowd that braved Carmaggedon to make it to the Home Depot Center. 0-0 at full time. Blah.

With Philadelphia's win at Foxboro on Sunday, the Red Bulls now trail the Union by two points in the Eastern Conference standings. Moreover, Philly has two games in hand (21 for New York vs. 19 for Philadelphia). Columbus, just one point behind RBNY, is also on 19 games. It's going to take a very solid stretch run and a bit of luck for the Red Bulls just to win the Eastern Conference. A season which began with lofty goals has been reduced to a mad scramble for a playoff spot. The higher ups in Austria haven't been shy in the past about pulling the trigger on firings, as we reported the other day concerning the marketing department. With another poor result on Wednesday at Colorado, Hans Backe's neck could very well be on the chopping block when the dust settles on the All Star Game and Emirates Cup.

A few more notes from the Chivas game:
  • Frank Rost looked solid in his MLS debut but he didn't have much to do. One save, and it was the result of a ricochet off his own defender, Carlos Mendes.
  • Once again, Backe was reluctant to use substitutes, despite the fact that his aging squad must play at altitude on Wednesday then again at home against a fast, physical FC Dallas team on July 23. Ballouchy was inserted for Teemu Tainio in the 84th minute, but only after the Finn appeared to scream at the bench to make a change.
  • Juan Agudelo and Thierry Henry were singing from different song sheets. If the two are going to be relied on to produce goals in Luke Rodgers' absence, they need to work some things out on the training ground and develop a better understanding. Less selfishness on Agudelo's part would help.
  • After two games in which the McCarty/Tainio partnership seemed to be working well, the Red Bulls have reverted to their early season midfield stagnation. McCarty needs to do a better job of judging when to come forward, while Thierry Henry needs to stop dropping deep to collect balls in order to start attacks. Haven't we seen this movie before?
Finally, a roster note. The Red Bulls finalized a trade with DC United on Saturday in which they received an international slot in return for "future considerations." This morning, Austin Da Luz became those future considerations and bid farewell to New York fans on his Facebook page. On the face of it, Da Luz seems like a lot to give up for a roster slot. He had been lively in his few appearances this season. Da Luz's departure leaves Tim Ream as the only remaining player from RBNY's 2010 draft class.
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