Ok, so the 2014 Major League Soccer season is underway! That would be the only good thing about Saturday's events, if you're a NY Red Bulls fan. Our beloved Bulls, who traveled to Vancouver (to face a rejuvenated Whitecaps team now managed by former RBNY midfielder Carl Robinson), just totally started off the season on the wrong foot. It's one thing to start off with a loss (as I fully expected) and another to start off with a 4-1 embarrassment. And, as everyone who watched knows, if it wasn't for some massive Luis Robles saves, it could have really, really gotten ugly (full low-lights at the bottom of this post).
With starters like Henry and Olave out of this one (due to their severe dislike of playing on turf), 2nd year RBNY coach Mike Petke had some very tough choices to make. Peguy Luyindula started at forward (instead of Thierry Henry, who's never played at Vancouver because of the turf, and instead of Bradley Wright-Phillips, who would score the consolation goal late in the game), Richard Eckersley started at right back (instead of Kosuke Kimura) and Arrrmandooooooo started at center back (instead of Jamison Olave). All that and Tim Cahill, who'd flown 11,000 miles a few days earlier to make this game, got the start and went the full 90.
Well, needless to say that Mr. Petke got it all wrong (he said as much himself). The Red Bulls attack, with the ineffective Luyindula and tired Cahill (plus no Henry and BWP) was easily contained. Center back Arrrmandooooo proved himself as fleet of foot as Holgy used to be for us (watch the 3rd goal) but the chief mistake that Mr. Petke made on Saturday was the inclusion of one Richard Eckersley.
Mr. Eckersley, who just last week was labeled "an awful MLS player" by Grant Wahl, was (IMHO) responsible for the first two Vancouver goals. He committed a blatant penalty then did not press Vancouver's Sebastian Fernandez, who scored a golazo when he took advantage of being given so much room to take the shot. He's also been accused of keeping Kenny Miller onside, on the play that led to Vancouver's 3rd. A total Horror outing for the former ManU trainee. Hopefully Eckersley works out for us, in the long run, but I fully expect Mr. Petke to admit his momentary lapse of reason and start Kimura next Saturday.
Alrighty then! Despite the warning signs, I'm pulling for Mike Petke to lead us to some sort of glory again this season. Getting it done this coming weekend, against Colorado, will go a long way to putting this past Saturday's debacle way, way behind us.
Please check out the video above (middle) for some comments from the First Kick RBNY season ticket holder watch party at Red Bull Arena. While the game turned out to be a dud, the food was friggin great (thanks RBNY)! Ha, ha! That's all for now. I hope to see you all @The Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (built by Makita). The big viper is out!