As 2010 turns into 2011, the Red Bulls can look back on arguably their most successful season in a decade. Red Bulls beat writer Kristian Dyer takes a look at the second of three New Year’s resolutions for New York as the side heads into a second year at Red Bull Arena.
With the Red Bulls finishing the regular season first in the Eastern Conference, fans expected more from this team than a first-round exit from the playoffs and just two goals in as many games. And though offseason tradition for this team usually means revising half the starting lineup and accumulating absurd amounts of allocation money, this Red Bulls squad doesn’t need that.
A tweak here, a tweak there is all that is needed to turn this team into a goalscoring machine.
The first priority is to find a striker to partner Thierry Henry. The French DP is less effective when lacking a running mate and good service, and though Henry seemed to click early with Juan Pablo Ángel, the two never formed a consistent chemistry.
A legitimate partner for Henry is a must if they are going to maximize the former Barcelona and Arsenal star.
[inline_node:322612]Teenage striker Juan Agudelo seems to hold promise, but he’s yet to put together even a half-season in MLS that makes us think he’s ready for a 34-game grind — plus international duty.
Salou Ibrahim is a plodding target striker who doesn’t fit the mold of a pacey threat that head coach Hans Backe craves. Notts County’s Luke Rodgers seems destined for Red Bull Arena, but the Englishman has yet to play top-tier soccer.
Perhaps the Red Bulls could look at bringing an American Export back home — Eddie Johnson or former New York forward Jozy Altidore come to mind.
Looking at the midfield, this is an area that shouldn't be of terrible concern.
With Dane Richards emerging as a more complete player on the right wing opposite Joel Lindpere, the flanks look solid. Deep-lying midfielders Rafa Márquez and Tony Tchani have good bite in the middle and move forward well into the attack.
But the addition of Jan Gunnar Solli could be the creative force needed centrally.
Team sources are saying that the Norwegian is every bit as good as Lindpere, who was among the most solid midfielders in the league last year. Solli could be the savvy spark that this team lacked in 2010.
With a good draft and perhaps a couple additions to add depth, the already solid Red Bulls midfield can withstand the rigors of the regular season plus the US Open Cup, SuperLiga and the load of friendlies that are sure to be scheduled this year at Red Bull Arena.
With a strike partner for Henry – whether that is Agudelo, Ibrahim or a new addition – the Red Bulls attack could charge into 2011. But they need to resolve to not tinker with the attack too much this offseason or risk losing the momentum of 2010.