Saturday, October 1, 2011

Backe Needs to Find the Formula

Backe's Search for the Winning Formula Continues (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Nearly three months since the Bulls beat down Toronto at the Cathedral, but it seems like three years ago. Despite winning two from their last three league matches, few supporters can be accused of hubris as we begin the month that will determine whether or not the year’s a success or a humiliating failure. The obituaries were obviously premature, but another win is vital tonight to restore a sense of promise to the season, as Backe hopes tonight he’ll find the formula to carry New York not only to preserve a playoff spot, perhaps even the top spot in the East. In the tenth and final playoff spot, the Bulls are just three points out of first in the East with a game in hand. There’s everything to play for tonight in Toronto.

Neither side can feel good about this year’s race to the Golden Boot, as DeRosario’s goals for both sides contribute to the tally that has him in top spot. A bit of greed would be good not only for Henry, but for New York, as his return to the score sheet can mean all the difference for a side so desperate. Who Backe selects to partner with him up front is just one ingredient he needs to find the winning formula. Rodgers to start with Agudelo off the bench would be the better’s choice, but JA17’s brace against Toronto earlier this season might tempt Hans into giving him a full 90. Fresh from suspension and the cover of FIFA 12, Rafa Marquez should figure in the starting XI, but he’s more likely to play a midfield role than return to a back four. The foursome of Solli, Keel, Ream and Mendes that earned the shutout the Timbers last week might be best left alone, but Keel will probably sit for the return of Roy Miller. Teemo Taino’s touch has been off of late but his experience might be more highly valued by Backe than Dax McCarty’s scrappy if not quite persistent presence. Plenty of flank play from Lindpere on the left and Richards on the right are a given, and Aron Winter should have prepared Toronto for this or his team’s slim playoff chances will bring an early and bitter winter north of the border.

Only two wins out of fifteen road matches but the Bulls might welcome this trip out of town for some urgent team building, free from home dissent. Bulls fans won’t be around to voice displeasure with the team or the front office, so a respite from such distractions might mean this road trip can help Backe and the boys find their form and the winning formula to lift the spirits of squad and supporters alike, and make this an October to remember. Three points and the hype for Tuesday’s rescheduled match against the Galaxy will be deserved. Another road loss and the game against the Gals might be a last gasp.

Little chance of substantial tactical changes, Backe will certainly remix his personnel; subtle changes are needed to recover contender status. Whether the formula works magic or proves poison will determine whether we’ll enjoy a postseason or will suffer another offseason of wholesale changes.
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