Monday, July 11, 2011
The Big Viper was missing from Red Bull Arena this weekend for the big game against DC United. RBNY players must have sensed the massive fall-off in passion because they quite simply came out flat and played like shit, as the great You Suck Corrales so rightly says in his post-game comments above. There should be no excuse for a team to display the kind of lack of energy the Red Bulls exhibited on Saturday, not in the league's oldest rivalry. When Tim Ream is your best player against your hated arch-enemy, at home in front of 22,000+ fans, there is something seriously wrong. Embarrassing doesn't begin to describe it.
In terms of movement off the ball, passing accuracy, decision-making and just plain effort this was probably the Red Bulls' worst performance of the season. It would be easy to make the fatigue excuse, with the club having played so many matches in such a short space of time, but two or even three matches in a week is a fact of life in MLS. But if the players are tired, Hans Backe only has himself and his ultra-conservative substitution policy to blame. If they're not ready to go out and die for the cause, that's an even bigger indictment of his ability as a manager. Maybe they needed a pep talk from Mike Petke about what this rivalry is all about. If Mikey couldn't do it I'm sure that YSC would have offered his services for a nominal fee. (Seriously, who wouldn't walk through a wall for him?)
The disconnect between what this game meant for supporters and what it meant for the players was palpable. It's one thing to "take pressure off" your team. It's another to hand them a license to give anything less than maximum effort. Backe may be guilty of the latter in recent weeks.
Credit to DC United (*spit*) for staying patient, defending resolutely, playing their game and out-possessing the Red Bulls - no mean feat. There were several sequences during the match when RBNY simply could not get the ball back. That's what quick passing and movement off the ball will do for you. Charlie Divies was mostly held in check, with the exception of Ream's magnificent clearance. Of course, as I feared in my pre-game comments, it had to be Dwayne De Rosario who stuck the dagger in the Red Bulls' back. That's just how we roll.
I took a lot more video, and may eventually work up the energy to post half-time comments as well, which mostly consisted of praise for Tim Ream. If there were any doubts after his most recent stint with the US Men's National Team that he is a special talent, Ream put them to rest on Saturday. That's the only silver lining we can take from this black-ass cloud of a game.
Onward to the US Open Cup vs. Chicago tomorrow, when God knows what kind of ugly squad we'll see, then it's off to LA to play Chivas next weekend.