Two weeks ago, Bouna Coundoul walked off the field of the Home Depot Center dejected, having seen his name on the scorer’s sheet for an own goal. The 2-0 loss to Chivas USA was the first loss of the season for New York and the first time that the Red Bulls’ defense had conceded goals all season.
Fast forward a week to last Saturday night’s game and Coundoul conceded a goal to FC Dallas within the first 10 minutes of the match.
“Bouna Time,” as the keeper likes to call himself, had seemed to strike midnight.
All told, Coundoul made seven saves against FC Dallas, many of them in the second half and of the spectacular variety. Head coach Hans Backe conceded after the match that without Coundoul’s performance, he doesn’t think the team would get a 2-1 result against FC Dallas. While fans and pundits doubted Coundoul after the own-goal blunder against Chivas USA, Coundoul never doubted himself.
“I know what I am capable of, and what I can do. I didn’t beat myself up after the [Chivas USA] game and my teammates didn’t either,” Coundoul told MLSsoccer.com. “I knew I would bounce back.”
And bounce back Bouna did.
“He was phenomenal, the way he bounced back from the Chivas game,” forward Juan Pablo Ángel said, calling Coundoul the “man of the match.”
Now, it is up to Coundoul to continue the good feelings from last week’s win and to show up with another steady performance. Before joining New York, Coundoul was the starting goalkeeper for the Colorado Rapids but was often plagued with bad form and inconsistent performances. Coundoul has taken the burden on himself to steady his way in goal as he is often the first player on the practice field and one of the last ones to leave, working steadily with goalkeeper coach Des McAleenan on his technique and form.
“Des is a world-class goalkeeper coach who wants me to be the best and perform to my best,” Coundoul said. “If I want to improve my game, I need to put in the time to make sure I am ready and as good as I can get.”
Whether Coundoul can perform like he did on Saturday night, a performance Backe called “world-class,” remains to be seen but he certainly has the confidence of the club. While Coundoul was talking to MLSsoccer.com and answering a question on his form, Red Bulls sporting director Erik Solér walked by and interjected that, “There is plenty more where that came from” with regards to the keeper’s ability that was on display against FC Dallas.
It was the smile and grin from Solér that spoke volumes of how pleased he was with Coundoul’s effort last weekend. But after a rest day on Wednesday, Coundoul will return to the field for two days of practice ahead of the Philadelphia derby on Saturday. He will undoubtedly be one of the first ones on the field and one of the last to leave in the practice sessions ahead.
“Now it’s just Bouna, but come Saturday, it will be ‘Bouna Time’ again,” Coundoul said.
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.