RBNY season ratings: Breaking down midfield

Lindpere, Richards lead much improved unit in center of park

Last year’s Red Bulls midfield was a
mish-mash, with underwhelming Jorge Rojas the key performer in the center of
the park. This past year, the unit was much improved, though it lacked consistency.

Here's MLSsoccer.com's take on how the RBNY midfield did in 2010:

Dane
Richards
– The right winger started off quietly,
then simmered and sizzled come August and September. Upon Thierry Henry’s
arrival, the Jamaican scored five goals from mid-August through the end of the
year, his highest tally of his MLS career. He showed amazing discipline on
the wing and improved maturity in his touch, decision-making and his crossing.
Still work to be done, as evidenced by his disappearance act in the playoffs,
but Richards is finally putting the pieces together. Rating: 7

Seth
Stammler
– The defensive midfielder’s late
summer retirement was a shock. Stammler – now pursuing an MBA at the University
of Chicago – seemed to float in and out of games, perhaps a function of
injuries and international call-ups forcing him to the wings. He was solid
defensively all season long and had a number of strong performances from May
through July during a rough spell for the club. Rating: 6

Joel
Lindpere
– Whether playing centrally or on the
left wing, Lindpere was undoubtedly the team’s most consistent and dependable
player. His touch was solid and his movement off the ball among the best in the
league. Defensively, Lindpere was a pit bull, boasting unmatched work ethic and
fitness on the club. His numbers weren’t gaudy, but he was a calming presence
in the midfield and settled well into the locker room. Rating: 7.5

Tony
Tchani
– There were growing pains, but the rookie managed to find
his groove. Strong and physically imposing, the second overall pick in the
2010 SuperDraft showed good vision and was mostly dependable in his distribution. His
patience on the ball must improve as Tchani was often too fast to release and did
not look to play a dangerous ball enough. The pieces are there for him to be a
Best XI player in this league, he just needs to round his game a bit more. Rating: 6.5

Sinisa
Ubiparipovic
– Early in the season, the third-year
midfielder was called upon for his versatility, playing along the wings and
centrally. His combination play has always been solid, but his first
touch consistently lets him down. He’s a nice role player and
good depth to have coming off the bench. Rating:
5.5

Rafa
Márquez
– A key player at Barcelona and captain of the Mexican
national team, the Red Bulls’ mid-summer signing came with pedigree. Márquez
was supposed to solidify the midfield, and while his performance was solid
enough, he never looked comfortable with the club. Perhaps a true preseason
will help him, but he seems more like a central defender then a true holding
midfielder. His touch was often too heavy and he seemed a bit sluggish in
several games, perhaps the result of Mexico’s heavy playing schedule. Still,
his vision was sublime at times. Rating:
6.5

Carl
Robinson
– Somewhat of a steal for New York,
who got Toronto FC to pick up a sizeable chunk of the former Welsh international’s
salary in a preseason trade. Early in the season, he was a fixture in the starting XI until a nagging knee injury forced him out of the lineup. Upon his
return, he understandably lost his starting spot to Márquez but still
contributed off the bench. For the right price, he could help New York win a
championship next year. He’s also a pure class act on and off the field and
enjoys mentoring the younger players. Rating:
6

Brian
Nielsen
– Not much was seen of the Danish youth international as a
season-ending injury relegated him to the sidelines before the New Jersey weather
turned warm. When he was on the field, he was never fit but he showed flashes
of brilliance and touch on the ball. Could be an intriguing piece to blend into
the squad next year, and team sources say he wants to return for 2011 (after
originally implying that he didn’t expect to be with New York next year). No rating.

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