Thursday, March 14, 2013


Random RBNY Player for no Particular Reason

Two games. One Point. Six Subs. From the SUB WATCH perspective, that’s the season in a nutshell. Hmm… Almost feels like I’m forgetting some interesting developments… Oh well, onward we go with a look at what transpired with the San Jose subs, what that implies for the home opener, and a SUB WATCH contest! Please don’t think this contest violates my long-standing guidance: SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only. Wager at your own risk!

You knew that subs were going to be important for New York’s second trip out to the West Coast in as many weeks. This was only compounded by an injury to Juninho and the somewhat puzzling decision to play chicken with a huge winter storm after the previous week’s travel woes. Even worse? A 10:00 pm ET start on the first day of Daylight Savings Time! It’s almost as if someone in the league office has a vendetta against the Red Bulls! *cough* Garber *cough* NY2 *cough*

Ahem. Anyhooo… Red Bull fans saw a lineup wrinkle right off the bat with Game 1 subs Jonny Steele and Eric Alexander inserted into the starting XI. Steele had Juninho’s big shoes to fill while Alexander ran the right flank.

Alexander proved Petke’s hunch was right when Henry put a ball into the box that he crushed into the back of the net on a beautiful volley. Hey! That’s 1 goal from a sub in just 2 games!

The Opta Chalkboard tells us that In Game 1, Juninho was successful on 34 of 48 (70%) passes and successful on 1 of 2 dribbles. SUB WATCH expected that Steele would be less active than the Brazilian, and that proved out, going 24 for 30 on passes with zero successful dribbles. The lesson here? As always, the value of stats in soccer is dubious.

If anything, Petke’s subs only obscured the race for SMP leader as he reversed the previous week’s moves, bringing Bover on for Steele at 69' and Kimura on for Alexander at 87'. Neither was very productive. As RBNY found their backs against the wall, Bover made only 2 passes and, while he came in late, Kimura’s stat sheet is straight zeros for every meaningful category.

Let’s see... I remember Moreno coming in at the end. Let me check who he subbed out. Oh, yeah! Our good friend, Roy Miller. With the departure of Victor Palsson last year, Miller is returning to form with a strong early bid for He Who Must Not Be Named status. After an epic debacle that has been thoroughly recounted elsewhere, Petke closed the barn door after the cows were in the field by sending Moreno onto the pitch at 92'.


  • Average subs per game: 3
  • Average substitution time: 80
  • Season Low Sub: 66’ Game 1
  • Season High First Sub: 69’ Game 2
  • Season High Last Sub: 93’ Game 1
  • SMP Leader: Jonny Steele, 26 (updated to reflect Game 1 added time)

And now, some thoughts on betting opportunities as we head into the home opener.

Not a lot of data to go on after two games, but you have to think that Jonny Steel and Amando (Don’t Call Him Armando) Moreno would seem to have the biggest upside. For Steele, a lot depends on Juninho’s calf. Moreno, on the other hand, seems like a no brainer as you can get him on the cheap. STEELE: HOLD,  MORENO: BUY

The question loyal SUB WATCH readers must be asking is “Where the heck is Young Connor Lade???” Two games without a single minute played is inconceivable to all who watched him last year. I doubt Lade is in Petke’s doghouse, but perhaps he was a better fit in Backe’s system. Regardless, SUB WATCH says it is only a matter of time before YCL returns to the pitch. LADE: BUY

Finally, the over/under jumped from 77.33' to 80'. In comparison, after 2 games last year, Backe had used one fewer sub but the over/under sat at just 69.5'. Again, a tough call this early but SUB WATCH sees Petke taking a more cautious approach to subs than the fans may have expected. That said, 80’ is fairly high, so we’re taking the UNDER.

I thought I’d see what SUB WATCH readers think about who will emerge as the RBNY super sub this year. But a poll is bit boring. Instead, I've devised the greatest Red Bulls substitution-based contest ever! Here’s the 5 categories:
  1. Sub Minutes Played leader at halfway point of the season. Player and minutes. That’s MLS league games only for the 1st 17 games, ending with and including away at Philly on June 23. (e.g. Kimura, 98)
  2. SMP full season leader
  3. Most productive sub at halfway point. 2 points for goals, one for assists. (e.g. Alexander, 2 pts)
  4. Most productive sub full season
  5. Most subbed player full season. Total times subbed out—not fewest minutes. (e.g. Roy Miller, 17)

Sub minutes include added extra time, as reported by the league

Here’s the deal: Reply in the comments to this SUB WATCH column BEFORE Saturday, March 23, with responses to ALL FIVE categories  One submission per reader. There will be one winner in each category. Each winner will receive, paid for by SUB WATCH, 1 large beverage of their choice at Red Bull Arena, at a time of SUB WATCH's choosing.

So put on your thinking caps and get to predictin’ already! SUB WATCH will see you Saturday at Red Bull Arena!

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