Friday, March 8, 2013

SUB WATCH: The Return/Game 1, 2013

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There were rumors. Rumors of skirmishes. Of battles. Of catastrophe off Newfoundland or, perhaps, somewhere in the Indian Ocean. But now, a sleek, dark vessel rises from the black waters of of the Passaic River. Let the cries ring out: SUB WATCH HAS RETURNED!!!!

Hello, loyal readers! SUB WATCH once again graces the pages of The Viper’s Nest after a looooong and loony off-season. Truth be told, we submerged a little early in 2012 and then went on a bender after the heartbreaking loss to DC. Woke up in the Finger Lakes somehow. But that’s neither here nor there, because we are back and better than ever! A new coach, new players, no Rafa! The possibilities are endless.

What’s in store for your regular examination of RBNY substitutions? Well, your captain has some new wrinkles planned. We’ll continue to lead with our patented blend of the ridiculous and sublime, with in-depth sub data for the punters (Say it with me: SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only. Wager at your own risk!).

Alongside this quantitative analysis, you can expect a bit more qualitative analysis on top of the sub production stats that started last season. We'll tackle the big question of how Petke’s sub tactics compare to his predecessor’s, and give opinions on individual moves and what they say about overall game strategy.

We’ll also have a topline view of subs across the league. Don’t expect much depth here; this is a one-man sub!

We might even try to generate some reader interaction---with cash prizes!

As captain, I reserve the right to totally disregard all of the above statements.
With that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to Game 1 of the 2013 season.


After many travel woes the Red Bulls took on the Timbers in Portland and SUB WATCH was on the scene (following a quick trip up the Columbia River to visit Double Mountain).

Shocking the RBNY faithful who made the trip, the Red Bulls jumped out to a 3-1 halftime lead. But energy flagged in the second half. A perfect time for Head Coach Petke to put his stamp on the team with some tactical subs, right? Well...

Petke’s first move was to replace the Man of 1,000 Names, Bover, with former RSL boy Jonny Steele (note: NOT a porn star. I’m pretty sure, anyway) on 66’. Having not seen either play, its hard to make any strong judgments here, but it was a bit surprising to see young legs taken out with RBNY’s senior citizens seemingly lacking oxygen.

If Petke’s first sub was a boring one, the second certainly raised some eyebrows. In the 73rd minute, Brandon Barklage came on for new fan and teammate favorite Espindola, who had scored a brace in the first 45’. This move seemed to signal a conscious shift to a defensive mode for the rest of the game, after Portland had scored again in the 56th minute. SUB WATCH was disappointed as the aggressive approach had enabled not only the team, but the player being replaced, to capitalize on Timbers errors. Yes, the tide had seemed to turn with Portland dominating possession, but one wonders whether this was less than inspiring for the team. And what does it say about BB, who shone at right back last year? Does Petke consider him a flexible M/D like DJ Solli? Time will tell.

The third sub--are you happy, fans? All three subs!--was Eric Alexander, who SUB WATCH had no knowledge of being on the squad. You may recognize him from his official photo on

Was this some sort of salute to the Timbers army, as Alexander replaced fellow former Timber Kosuke Kimura? One hopes not, but I’m guessing most SUB WATCH readers were of like mind in expecting an appearance from Young Connor Lade. Does this indicate a sophomore slump, or was he just standing behind a cone so Petke couldn’t see him? Either way, this bears watching.

For the Punters

  • Subs per game: 3
  • Average substitution time: 73.333
  • Season Low Sub: 66’ Game 1
  • Season High Sub: 93’ Game 1
  • SMP Leader (that’s sub minutes played, kids): Jonny Steele, 24

There’s not much more to be said after just one game, but SUB WATCH does have a lot of questions: When will Young Connor Lade crack the sub ranks? Can Jonny Steele (again, NOT a porn star...but probably best you don't Google him) continue to be first choice off the bench in hopes of eclipsing last year’s SMP leader, the dear, departed KFC? How soon until the RBNY fans take issue with Head Coach Petke’s subs? And, most of all, will they TRADE ROY MILLER ALREADY???

Whew. Got a little emotional there, but it’s great to be back. Join us next time for much, much more with the first name in semi-responsible, subjective, and probably inaccurate coverage of New York Red Bulls substitutions: SUB WATCH!

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