Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quakes 2 Red Bulls 2: Goalkeeping Hell

Lindpere Beats Jon Busch to Open the Scoring
The Red Bulls completed their season-long four game road trip in Palo Alto, California last night by - how else? - going up early and then handing back points to the opposition. The 2-2 draw might have felt like a well-earned road point if not for the fact that RBNY threw the Quakes a lifeline by conceding so easily after dominating the first half. Luckily, a late Joel Lindpere equalizer (his second of the night) kept the Red Bulls from returning home from California empty-handed. Lindpere was the only Red Bulls player on the pitch in Chicago last Sunday who gave everything he had for the cause, and proved again last night with a brace and an Energizer Bunny-like work rate that he is probably the most underpaid player in MLS. Hey Joel, get your agent on the phone!

Now, about that goalkeeping. There is simply no way that a club that spots the opposition one or two free goals each time it plays is going to win trophies - not in this league at least. Bouna Coundoul got the start on Saturday despite his woeful error in Chicago. His inability to keep his hands on a simple high ball into the box led directly to San Jose's first. All Khari Stephenson had to do was put his foot on it. He'll never score an easier goal.

Coundoul has now proven himself unworthy of starting, but can you really blame Jan Halvor Halvorsen, who was filling in for Hans Backe on the night? Alex Horwath had been left at home, while Greg Sutton had proven himself unfit to start with his horrid performances in the Pacific Northwest. The fact that Coundoul was the best of the bunch says a lot about the Red Bulls' goalkeeping situation, and none of what it's saying is good. At this point, no one would blame RBNY for giving Coundoul and Sutton their walking papers, signing a true #1 and keeping Horwath as the back-up. The Red Bulls goalkeeping is so bad it's almost comical. When you're the weekly butt of jokes around the league - from players and media alike - it's time to get a hint and make some drastic moves. Dudek, Cudicini, Coupet, Hahnemann, Sørensen - all are out of contract and theoretically available. If Erik Solér is not burning up their phone lines he deserves to be fired.

A few additional notes from Saturday:
  • The announced attendance of 41,000+ was the largest ever crowd to see a non-doubleheader Quakes match. While the pitch in Palo Alto seemed to cause footing problems for some - most notably Juan Agudelo - it was nice to see an MLS game in the Bay Area not being played in a glorified high school stadium.
  • The 41,000+ were probably disappointed to hear that Thierry Henry would not be playing, the result of "flu-like symptoms." Over the Red Bulls last five games, Henry has only played twice, if you can call what he did in Chicago playing. Time to give the armband to Lindpere?
  • Someone at MLS needs to have a word with Steven Lenhart before he causes a serious injury. He might be endearing himself to Quakes fans with his feisty play, aggressive antics and goal-hanging celebrations (which are somehow OK, while removing your shirt is not), but he needs to tone it down.
  • If Red Bulls fans were hoping to see a more confident Tim Ream return from US National Team duty, they'll be sorely disappointed. Ream and Mendes both failed to mark Lenhart on San Jose's go ahead goal. The laser beam cross from Steven Beitashour was perfectly placed, but there should be no excuse for losing sight of Lenhart there.
  • Juan Agudelo needs to stop trying to do it all by himself. At the moment, the young striker is exhibiting all the selfish tendencies of an 18 year old. When given the opportunity to create for a teammate, he'd rather try to beat three defenders and score a highlight reel goal. Of course when you're paired with Mehdi Ballouchy, who plays as if his ankles were tied together, maybe it's somewhat understandable. 
  • Dax McCarty looked bright and busy in his debut. During his time in DC, he had often been criticized for playing the safe pass, but he was a positive presence for the Red Bulls last night, and was at the heart of a number of dangerous attacks.
The Red Bulls return home today, then play Toronto FC on Wednesday at the Cathedral of Football.
blog comments powered by Disqus