Monday Morning Gaffer: Red Bulls get a wake-up call
Welcome to another edition of the Monday Morning Gaffer, where MLSsoccer.com writer Kristian Dyer offers an in-depth take on where things stand with the New York Red Bulls.
Joel Lindpere seems to be the only real threat in the Red Bulls midfield right now. Chivas USA effectively took the central midfielder out of the game in their 2-0 win at the Home Depot Center on Saturday, forcing him to drop back deep to receive the ball and limiting his ability to get forward in positions where he could be dangerous. When was the last time that Lindpere looked like he might make something magical happen? You have to go back to the Seattle game last week to remember when the Estonian import was threatening.
Bouna Coundoul’s blunder on Saturday afternoon was a once-a-season type miscue that was an all-too common sight for Rapids fans over the past few years while Coundoul plied his trade out West. To be fair, the New York ‘keeper stood on his head at times in the first two games of the season and made some saves he probably wasn’t supposed to. Jesús Padilla's shot did take a deflection to cross him up, but reacting slowly to the rebound off the post and then pushing the ball into the back of the net reminded Red Bulls fans that Coundoul is capable of the sublime and the absurd.
Three substitutes were used by New York for the first time all season, and it was the first extended look at rookie Tony Tchani. The second pick in the draft didn’t necessarily impress, but it’s hard to judge a midfielder from about 15 minutes of a game that degenerated into hopeful long balls by New York to find an equalizer. Salou Ibrahim made his MLS debut but looked lethargic, a far cry from his cracker of a game against Santos a few weeks back. It was a hard working effort by Connor Chinn, but he had little to show for his efforts.
The head-scratching ways of Dane Richards on the right wing continue. The winger was neutralized by Chivas USA, who gave him room to roam on the right side but clamped down on him about 25 yards from goal, realizing that his touch is suspect and his crosses aren’t much better. Even worse, Richards lacked strong diagonal balls and passes over the top because Lindpere was neutralized for much of the match. The rumors that the team is looking at a left mid, coupled with the pending return of Chris Albright, could mean Jeremy Hall will move to the midfield, sending Richards to the bench.
New York isn’t as bad as Saturday afternoon would suggest, when the team rarely looked dangerous and the midfield was disorganized. But they may not be as good as their first two wins to start the season would indicate. Without any more help -- this team needs a true left midfielder with some presence -- the midfield will stay stuck in neutral. This is an average team in the league right now.