New York limped into last Saturday’s match against the New England Revolution off a 4-1 trouncing against rivals DC. The Revs came into the game off two weeks rest and had Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber returning to the squad. New York’s backline had less than 13 MLS starts between them, in front of a rookie keeper. Everyone expected the Revs to put pressure all over NY’s midfield and backline, which was abysmal the previous week. The opposite happened though as Lade and Barklage, the fullbacks, were able to make consistent runs or lob balls over the Revs midfield. One such play in the 7th minute, a ball played over the Revs by Lade, found an onrushing Henry who chipped the ball over a stranded Matt Reis. Henry would go out less than 20 minutes later with a hamstring strain. The injury plague Red Bulls were now in disaster mode, going forward without their scoring leader and captain for 70 minutes.
While much praise has been given to New York’s back four and Ryan Meara for the 1-0 shutout, Dax McCarty’s switch to a defensive mid is what allowed New York’s head to stay above the onrushing waves of New England. Countless times Dax picked a pass off, won second balls, and kept Feilhaber from being completely influential in the second. Ballouchy a bit further up the field was also able to keep Shalrie Joseph under wraps in the first; either through picking Joseph’s pocket or winning a second ball from him. In the second half, New York seemed to bunker down and only went forward on counters. They were lucky that Meara was on his game and that New England’s attack lacked the finishing needed to deflate New York. For the first time, New York was able to pull a result against a team that had the majority of possession. NY likes to be the team with the ball and I always fear when they play a team that holds possession because it seems some of the players on the Red Bulls does not know how to react. The Red Bulls have to be one of the most unpredictable sides in MLS. Their defense was supposed to be their downfall this past weekend where everyone, myself included, had New England finding the net multiple times. For the next 3-4 weeks, this backline is going to be under immense backline and a win like this gives them confidence. Whether it translates into momentum for the next few matches remains to be seen.
New York now goes into a rough May schedule without Henry, Conde, and Tainio, who are all expected out another 3-4 weeks at least. That is the spine of the team from the backline up the middle. Rafa is out against the Galaxy for his suspension, which I’m sure most fans wish would have been longer. Miller and Keel are still both out an unknown time for New York, though Miller is expected back before Keel as of now. Some good news comes that striker Juan Agudelo and rightback Jan Gunnar Solli have returned to practice Wednesday morning. Agudelo has been working on his fitness and Solli is testing out his calf ahead of he big clash in LA. Both players have been updated to questionable for the game.
Now the Red Bulls really need to show what they are made of without Henry. Hans Backe says the team is in disaster management without the Frenchmen and rightfully so. Now Backe will have to again shuffle his team to fill in the gaps. It is most likely that Dane Richards will partner up top with Kenny Cooper. The midfield should remain untouched besides the right wing. Lindpere should play out wide left, Ballouchy will play that box to box midfield role, being the creative force behind the forwards, and Dax will play that defensive midfield role, sitting right in front of the center backs. Whether Palsson starts out wide depends on the health of Solli. If Solli can play, expect Barklage to slot in on the right in midfield. Palsson has been sloppy in all of his play. At times he will be bright, making a key play but most of the time he is trying to recover from a mistake.
New York’s run-in over the next month is five matches starting away to LA this coming Saturday. They then play host to the Houston Dynamo, travel to Philly, go up to Montreal, and come back home against Chivas all before May ends. The Red Bulls are then off (of MLS action, US Open Cup games start June 2nd for MLS sides) until June 17th when they travel to Chicago.
International Call Ups
The time is almost upon us where international teams start playing again. Whether it’s World Cup 2014 Qualifiers, the Euro’s, or Olympics, most countries will be in action late May and early June. One player NY was not suspecting of getting called up, especially to an outside nation, was rookie net minder Ryan Meara. Ireland Under-21 coach Noel King told the Irish media that Meara would link up with the team ahead of its U-21 European Championship qualifier against Italy on June 4th. New York was not obligated to release Meara and chose not to do so. Meara told MLSSoccer.com he is focused on his play in NY and the goal of winning MLS Cup.
(image courtesy of newyorkredbulls.com)