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
[inline_node:319730]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.