HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls got the result they wanted on Saturday night: a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders.
But it wasn’t stellar play by New York, who failed to turn an edge in possession and chances into true scoring opportunities. The Monday Morning Gaffer looks at the match that started the season for the Red Bulls.
Tainio seemingly came out of nowhere, showing up for a trial during preseason training in Mexico. But the Finnish international, who has played for Tottenham and Ajax, has the look of an impact player. Playing at the bottom of head coach Hans Backe’s diamond midfield, Tainio was a bit tentative in his challenges but showed outstanding distribution and poise on the ball.
It was Tainio, after all, who played a beautiful long ball to assist Juan Agudelo on the game’s only goal.
“I saw there was a big space behind him and he made the first cut," Tainio said postgame, "so all I had to do was play the ball behind the defense in front of Agudelo and he did the rest."
Rafa Márquez made his league debut on the back line after being a defensive midfielder since he joined the club last summer. It wasn’t a bad performance for the Mexican international, who struggled at times with the movement of Sounders forward O'Brian White but was outstanding in his positioning and his vision. Several times Márquez found Dane Richards with deep balls that jump-started the Red Bulls' counterattack. Overall it was an encouraging performance for Márquez, who partnered well with Tim Ream.
Here we go again? Thierry Henry struggled with fitness after joining the Red Bulls midseason last year, but he said he was feeling ready for 2011 after benefiting from a full preseason with New York. But at some point during the game, Henry pulled his hamstring again.
Though he stayed in the game, the fact that Henry is once again struggling with a nagging injury is difficult to swallow for Red Bulls fans — especially given New York set to miss six players on Saturday for international duty.
Which Leads Us To …
Next week could test the Red Bulls depth early. With key field players such as Ream and Agudelo called up to the US, plus Márquez (Mexico), Richards (Jamaica) and Roy Miller (Costa Rica) away with their respective national teams, that is five starters from Saturday’s win who won’t travel to Columbus. The back line will be hit the hardest with three starters unavailable, but it will be interesting to see minutes for rookie Tyler Lassiter, who during preseason garnered high praise from Backe.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer