Thursday, September 13, 2012

SUB WATCH: Game 28

Don't Worry, SUB WATCH Has Been Keeping a Close Eye on Things
As you see from this week's title, SUB WATCH has stopped trying to calculate the week of the MLS season for which we technically qualify at this date. The important thing is that the rare Saturday evening match against the Crew marks the 28th game of the 2012 campaign. But before we get to the intriguing sub picture for that game, let's take a look at the previous two fixtures.

Despite one of the absolute worst performances in recent memory--at least since the Houston away game--the Red Bulls managed to escape KC with a point thanks to a Kai Kamara own goal. The team was flat throughout the match and the two subs Backe selected weren't much help. Lindpere came on in the 70th minute for Kenny Cooper and Miller as a midefielder for DJ Solli in the 89th. Their impact was as follows:
  • Fouls: 0
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 0
  • Successful pass: 33% (1/3)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/0)
  • Successful flick on: 0% (0/1)
  • Successful cross: 0% (0/1)
Those stats tell a pretty accurate picture of the match overall. One interesting note is that this was the third game in a row that He Who Shall Not Be Named did not appear. Hmmm...

DC United
In the (not so) eagerly anticipated conclusion to the Atlantic Cup (official motto: Yes, It's Still a Thing) Backe went with the full complement of three subs to up his season per game average to 2.19, the highest it has been since game 17 versus Toronto. The Red Bulls managed another tie thanks to some last minute heroics from the left foot of Willman Conde. Subs LeToux (75) Cooper (83) and the newly acquired Lloyd Sam (83) played a more prominent role than the KC subs did, but there's not a lot of statistical data to show for it:
  • Fouls: 1
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 8
  • Successful pass: 58% (11/19)
  • Successful dribble: 100% (1/1)
  • Successful flick on: 0% (0/2)
  • Successful cross: 0% (0/0)
  • Interception: 1
  • Clearance: 1
More importantly, there was great rejoicing in Red Bull land when, prior to the game, it was revealed that the curse has been lifted! HWSNBN was loaned to Eredivise squad NEC, where he will surely dislocate one of Jozy Altidore's ankles.

Looking Ahead
What can SUB WATCH punters learn from these two matches as the Red Bulls face off with the resurgent Crew led by Frederico Higuain? Here's three tips. As you read them, please remember that SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only! Wager at your own risk!

  1. Wherefore Art Thou, Kenny?
    Backe can't seem to make up his mind which side of the Sub equation KFC belongs on. Over the past 5 games, Cooper's name has appeared in the SUB WATCH ledge 5 times--coming onto the pitch three times and coming off twice. Too much volatility for comfort here, so I am staying away. COOPER: SELL
  2. Fantastic Four
    According to Brian Lewis at the New York Post, Backe has settled on a back four of Conde-Pearce-Holgersson-Lade. Not sure exactly how Brandon Barklage lost his job at right back, but he seems the likely candidate to come off the bench first to play on the right and Miller on the left. Conde's fitness is always a question and Lade is a utility player Backe likes to move around. BARKLAGE and MILLER: BUY
    ---LATE BREAKING NEWS--Apparently, Roy Miller picked up a groin injury with the Ticos. Recommendation changes to HOLD. He'll be back, so don't sell.
  3. Muddle in the Middle
    With Miller, Solli, and Lade all potential midfielders, in addition to converted forward LeToux, Backe has approximately 346 options--and that's not even counting Rafa in his stopper/distributor role. No clear path here, so whomever you have now, HOLD.
  4. Early Bird Gets the Worm
    The over/under on first sub time stands at 71.8" This marks the first time it has been higher than 71" since Montreal, and the sixth time this season. In addition, 16 of the 27 games (59%) have featured a sub before 70"! Smart money is on the UNDER.
May the odds be ever in your favor! SUB WATCH, out!

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