The Monday NY Gaffer: Ángel, Henry, Ream
Ángel flies in the box – When the New York Red Bulls had some struggles a third of the way through the season, forward Juan Pablo Angel was often dropping back deep, sometimes into his own half to get the ball. In the past two league games, however, Ángel has stay higher, namely, closer to the opposition’s goal.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said earlier this season that he sees Ángel as a “box player” who can do most of his damage deep in the other team’s end. Now with Thierry Henry alongside, the longtime New York striker is free to focus on getting into dangerous positions and scoring goals. Ángel had several good opportunities in and around the box against the Fire on Sunday night, chances he’ll likely put away next time. This will pay off in the playoffs.
Henry doesn’t have to score – Last week, it was a brace from Ángel that gave the Red Bulls a 2-2 tie in Houston. This week, Henry once again didn't find the back of the net in the scoreless draw with Chicago. But it's apparent the space and movement he brings to the team is worth as much as any goals he could be scoring. Henry knows that anywhere he goes on the field, he’s being followed and trailed, hence some of his runs open space for others. Joel Lindpere and Macoumba Kandji had plenty of space on the wings to threaten the Fire back line.
HIGHLIGHTS: Chicago 0, New York 0
Ream of the Crop – Talk about a tough day at the office. Tim Ream started out shutting down the Fire juggernaut of Brian McBride and Freddie Ljungberg before then seeing Nery Castillo come in off the bench. Ream, though, got the job done. There were few dicey moments all night; Ream even showed a veteran’s mindset with a tactical foul on Ljungberg in the first half. The big center back showed why he should be considered the front runner for Rookie of the Year honors and maybe even a call-up to the US National Team come January.
Dane brings it in Bridgeview – He’s one of the fans’ favorite whipping boys, but Dane Richards had a great game on Sunday night. Coming into the match in the first half for the injured Henry, Richards created havoc down the right wing all night long. More than speed, Richards showed patience on the ball and purpose in his service. He won’t get credit for it on the fan blogs, but even his backtracking was good. A very mature performance.
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