Satisfying. Maybe that is all I really need to write this week to sum up the Bulls performance. While the game lacked urgency from the Galaxy, the Red Bulls were content to hold the ball and try to force LA into some mistakes. The first half was a bit sloppy, but the play from both sides kept the game entertaining. The Bulls defense pulled off their 10th shutout of the year, and the offense supplied 2 well earned goals. In a way, this is another perfect game like the San Jose game and it sets Metro up for a win and in scenario at home this weekend to get to the playoffs. Before I take a look at the upcoming game, let’s look back at some of the things that stood out against the Galaxy.
The only real difference between the game on Friday and the game last month was that the Red Bulls didn’t make any drastic mistakes. They gave up possession on some light challenges or through some poor passing, but they never put themselves in position to cough up a goal the way they did at RBA. A lot of that credit belongs to some outstanding defensive work from Tim Ream and Carlos Mendes. I’m starting to get annoyed by how much praise these guys have earned through the year. It means that I am writing about them every week saying the same kinds of things, but they have worked very hard. Mendes was key to keeping Buddle in check most of the first half and Ream got in some great tackles as well, especially on the few times Beckham got too deep into the attack. I don’t care what anyone says, the Galaxy look worse with Beckham on the field. I’ll thank RedBullScouse on the Metrofanatic.com boards for the quote, but George Best hits the nail on the head. “He can’t kick with his left foot, he can’t tackle, he can’t head the ball and he doesn’t score many goals. Apart from that, he’s all right.” Beckham just seems to suck the life out of the game when he suits up for the Galaxy, and drifts out of games almost entirely at times. What do you do with an expensive headache like that? Poor Bruce. At least he didn’t try to challenge Roy Miller much as Beckham dropped deep defensively and moved a bit more centrally when on attack.
In any event, when the defense failed to get it done, Bouna came up big. He may have played recklessly at times, but he was dominant in the net. He showed wonderful stopping ability and both nerves and athleticism throughout the game when it mattered most. Week after week, Bouna has performed well, and yet he still earns a lot of calls for his job from the supporters. Danny Cepero had more fans and he coughed up goals left and right. Bouna has earned more respect than he gets and hopefully he will start to get it soon. He still needs work on distribution, but his shot stopping has been good all year. There were some mistakes earlier in the season, but those will be minimized thanks to our strong defensive core. I loved that moment when Donovan came in on that dangerous challenge and tried to get in Bouna’s face! Take that Landy cakes.
In the midfield, I was a little concerned with our ability to make the final pass. Holding possession has been our bread and butter, but we need someone with the vision to get the ball to the attackers in more consistently dangerous positions. I have been very happy with the distribution though, and that is largely thanks to Rafa, but Tchani and Ballouchy have worked very hard as of late and challenge well for the ball to break up counters through the middle. Rafa also had a few nice tackles on Donovan and it was nice to see El Tri’s captain tormenting Captain America in league play. The wings were quality Friday as well. Lindpere is pure class. He is a phenomenal player and my vote for team MVP. He has a tremendous motor and tireless effort. He leaves everything on the field and plays his heart out every game. Way to go Joel! On the other side, Dane Richards continues to impress with his late season form. I’m not sure what the cause for the 180 in his game, but whatever it was, thank you. He has worked hard week in and week out on the right flank as well as showing that his touch on the ball has improved. He makes smarter decisions on most occasions and only forces the attack a fraction of what he used to. Both goals in the game were from smart plays from the wingers and I tip my hat to them.
Angel may have scored, but he was a bit ineffective during the game. He is not equipped to play the lone striker role and it showed in his performance. He did make a very nice run to the end line, but his pass in was sloppy and got cleared away. He took a very nice penalty and earned his 13th on the year, but I would like to see him and Henry partnering up top. I thought that they played well there together in several games, and I imagine we will be seeing more of that in the future. Panic has spread to the fans that Angel was “benched”, but the change was tactical and I don’t expect to see that often over the next two months. Still, he played well, but looked uncomfortable in his roll.
This week, KC Wizards make the trip to Red Bull Arena. The last time these teams met at tiny Community America Ballpark the Red Bulls walked away with an easy win. The team was still not at its strongest point and the narrow field kept the game tight, but Angel put on a show and scored two wonderful goals. While I don’t expect to see a repeat of the score line, nothing about the Wizard’s performance lately has me worrying about a Metro win. The boys know that winning this game puts them in the playoffs, and I think we will see them step up to challenge and make some noise at home. This could be a bit of a trap game with RSL visiting the following week, but I think the Bulls will pull this one out. The only question is, will we see a lineup with a diamond midfield with Tchani on the bench, or a repeat of the same lineup from the last two games? In any event, until next time…
LET’S GO RED BULLS!