NY Monday Gaffer: Questions about starting XI

Coundoul improves, but the midfield struggled this weekend

All good things must come to an end. For New York, their five-game unbeaten streak was snapped on Saturday night away to the Columbus Crew. Head coach Hans Backe fielded a makeshift lineup in the 2-0 loss … and it played like a makeshift lineup. The Red Bulls now have two exhibition games in which to get the bad taste of the loss out of their mouth and a little reprieve in the way of the All-Star break. This is a good time for New York to get their mojo back.

WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS: CLB 2, NY 0

1. Bouna Time – A bright spot in the match was goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul, who showed very well. The performance was especially encouraging after Coundoul got stomped on in the ribs by a D.C. United player the week before. His development has taken a significant step forward under goalkeeper coach Des McAleenan this year, as he has shown improved hands and form. Early calls by fans for a midsummer signing to man the nets have stopped. Coundoul is keeping well right now and can’t be faulted on either goal at Columbus. Kudos to McAleenan on his work in making “Bouna-Time” go tick-tock.

2. The Midfield – Ugh. The less said about this unit the better. Seth Stammler had a third straight disappointing game and the wing play of Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Roy Miller – who played out of position – was less than stellar. Joel Lindpere is not the sole creative player this team needs, either. Things looked better with Tony Tchani on the field, although the old lament – his work rate – rings true here. Tchani is the future of this midfield, and with a couple games this week against European competition, he might be ready to be a consistent starter on this team. The midfield is the weak link.

3. The First XI – Backe's starting lineup had me scratching my head. Miller on the right side (though he is a left-footed player) and no Tchani to start things off is a bit puzzling. Also, the disappearance of Jeremy Hall, who always shows well in practice, is puzzling. Hall’s speed and defensive bite could have been an asset on the right side, allowing Miller to get pushed to the left wing where he interchanges well with Danleigh Borman. Backe gets all the praise this year for turning around a dismal squad, but his selections on Saturday were disappointing.

4. Oh, Henry – Love the camera shot of Thierry Henry emerging from a yellow taxi cab to enter Columbus Crew Stadium to watch his new team; have to wonder if the driver had any idea who he was taking to the stadium. Also have to wonder what Thierry’s impressions were of his new teammates as he watched the match from the stands. This team, and Juan Pablo Angel in particular, need his scoring presence and pace up top. He can cover a multitude of sins for the Red Bulls this year with his goal-scoring prowess.

Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012