To Be(ckham) or Not To Be(ckham)? That is the question. (NY v LA)

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2010 by rbnwhy

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 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…



Everything is bigger in Texas, including the mistakes! (RBNY v FC Dallas)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2010 by rbnwhy

That was an ugly game last night. It was a brutal, slug fest that had a ton of dirty challenges from both sides. The Red Bulls salvaged some pride with a draw, but they should have earned the win against the 10-man FC Dallas squad. Dallas did very well to achieve the result, and it was very reminiscent of the game at RBA earlier in the year. In a way, this game was a perfect complement to that game. All in all, it was a good result to get on the road, but it left me hungry for more. Here are four reasons why the Bulls were unable to take advantage of a tremendously unlucky Dallas:

1. Dallas held a deep back line throughout most of the game. In doing so, they took away Dane Richards speed advantage and neutralized his contributions to the game, although he almost got them on a terrific volley in the first half that was cleared by Eric Alexander (Who played a great game). Not only did the deep backline take Dane out of the game, but Henry as well. Playing as the lone striker, he was rarely dangerous because he had to drop back to get the ball and then turn towards goal. The best way to beat that kind of system is to cross the ball lots. Henry, while a great goal scorer, is not particularly adept at scoring with his head, although it does happen occasionally. In many ways, the Dallas defense did what Metro has been able to do, which is clog the middle of the field and force your opponents wide or to take shots from distance. They may have given up the midfield, but the gamble paid off.

2. Medhi Ballouchy played well in his debut, but he played much too safe. He needs to make those creative passes to open up defenses, but too often he looked to dish that ball off on the smart play. While that kept possession for the Bulls, it didn’t create too many opportunities. This is in no ways a knock of his ability, but it was clear that he was trying to still learn his teammates behaviors, and that he is not quite ready to run the offense. He did score a very nice goal, and probably could have had another if not for a very good save. I’d like to see him play with a little more flair in the next few games. When you start with two good midfielders behind you, you should not be afraid to take chances.

3. Roy Miller looked tired out there all day. He got into the attack well, but he did not track back like he should have. On the go ahead goal, Miller looked uninterested in the play and let his man dribble right though him. I expect this will be an exception and not the rule, but it could be that Miller is tired from all the travel in the last couple of weeks. His crossing could have been better, and I think he pinched in more often than overlapped on the outside making him less effective near the 18.

4. Angel came into the game too late. While the Red Bulls totally controlled possession, they needed a target man in the middle who could be dangerous in the air. Angel made the team more dangerous while he was out there, and it showed that the Bulls might have been better off with him in the game. I think Dallas was looking to play the deep line from the beginning of the game, and if that is the case, they were already going to give the bulls more space in the midfield allowing them to control the game. An extra striker would have kept the backline busy.

While the Red Bulls should have worked harder for the result, they were able to leave with a point. They currently sit 13 points ahead of TFC and are in terrific position to make the playoffs, but they still have some way to go to play consistent attractive soccer. In many ways, they let Dallas off the hook and beat themselves by playing with too much patience. The positives to take away from the game are: Medhi Ballouchu is a very good addition to the team. He may not be the experienced European that Backe wanted, but he is capable of handling this offense. Angel, Henry and Ballouchy can all play at the same time. While Tony Tchani has played very well as of late, I think it is important that they don’t shake the dynamic of the team up too much. Angel has played well for the most part, and taking him out of the game hurts the team.

And one other thing, Henry did not mean to inure Kevin Hartman. If you watch Henry after most goals, he kicks the ball away. It was probably stupid to ignore everyone else around him, but it was not malicious. He should be fined, but not suspended.

I’ll preview the LA game next week, until then, enjoy this weekend’s games and….


Red Bull notes (FCD preview)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2010 by rbnwhy

I have a couple of things to get off my chest today. One of them is born out of frustration with poor press releases. I reported about a month ago that the Red Bulls would be featured in the FIFA 11 demo. Turns out, it was a big lie! I downloaded the demo last night and the Bulls were nowhere to be found. I blame Kotaku, but their info game from EA. Having worked in the game business for some time now, I know how these things work. I’m confused as to how the misinformation came to pass, but I will only have to wait 2 additional weeks to play as the best team in the MLS! By the way, the new passing system is tricky. It will take me some time to get used to, but I like the semi-manual system, it has been a lot of fun to play around with. I’m also a bit disappointed that they kept the penalty system from the World Cup game, but I guess it helps to level the playing field.

Number 2, welcome to NYRB Medhi Ballouchy. I am very excited to see what you will be bringing to the table. I have been very satisfied with Tony Tchani and Rafa Marquez as of late, but if you have the vision that Hans claims you have, you will be an exciting addition to the team. I must admit, I have only seen brief flashes of brilliance from the once championed midfielder, but I think the supporting cast on this team far exceeds anything he has ever worked with. While it is disheartening to see Kandji go, you can’t argue with his lack of production and ineffectiveness on the field lately. Mac and Dane passed each other in opposite directions since he came back from injury, and it must be a lack of desire that keeps him from really pushing his game to the next level. I wish Kandji nothing but the best.

Carrey Talley joined the team yesterday and will hold the backup RB spot for the Red Bulls. While Talley is not a starter, he is someone with experience who will be a perfectly serviceable backup if Albright should go down in the next month. As the Bulls prepare for the playoffs, it is important that they strengthen the squad to account for any injuries down the line. The one place lacking depth is central defense, but if worse came to worse, Rafa and Stammler could fill in for Ream or Mendes. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen and things continue to run as smoothly as they have for the past month.

Tonight the Red Bulls will be taking on a Dallas team that has put up a great run of games as of late, but I can’t help but feel that they are overachieving. They have gone undefeated in their last 14 games, but have only one impressive win in the whole bunch. The combined records of the clubs they have remained undefeated against is 66-90-53 (Not exactly beating up on strong competition.). They did earn an impressive 2-0 win over RSL at home, and earned a 0-0 draw against Columbus away, but the majority of the streak is against lower competition. So it seems that FCD is overachieving, like a certain other Dallas team…

The last time the two teams met, the Red Bulls looked almost entirely different. Petke was playing next to Ream, and Hall. There was no Marquez, no Henry, and no Superstar Dane Richards, and the Red Bulls still managed to win the game on a late penalty. That team could cope with Dallas, this team should be able to smoke ‘em. The keys to winning the game will be with Marquez and Richards. If the two can keep up their stellar form, they will earn a lot of extra attention from Dallas, which should free up Lindpere, Angel and Henry. Teams have just been overwhelmed in games when that front six have played, and I have no doubt that Dallas will be too. The Red Bulls must limit mistakes that will put them at the mercy of a quick counter-attack where FCD have been dangerous all year. Finally, the Red Bulls must push the game from the opening minutes. In games against Toronto, San Jose and most recently Colorado, the Bulls have shown that a quick start will pay dividends. Can they keep up the pace in the Dallas heat? We’ll see. I’ve got my fingers crossed, how about you?

As always….


Someone call 9-1-1 for the Rapids! (NY v COL)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by rbnwhy

There isn’t a lot to say about the game this weekend. From start to finish, the Bulls dominated play and made Colorado, much like San Jose, look like lowly competition from a fringe league. Dane Richards and Joel Lindpere were phenomenal on the day. Richards had a few poor choices in the first half that wasted some great scoring chances, but he more than made up for them with his wonderfully patient goal in the second half. The spine of the team has become an unstoppable force when everything is clicking, and I can’t think of a single other team in the league that is playing more attractive soccer. Hans has repeatedly said that he doesn’t think this team is as good as RSL, LA, or FCD, but I’m not sure any of those teams are as good as RB right now.

I’d like to revisit the scoring plays and break down all of the wonderful things that are going on in those plays. Let’s start with Henry’s goal. Marquez receives the ball deep in the Bulls own half. He takes a couple of touches and looks downfield. Without much thought, he sends a beautifully weighted ball down to Henry who is able to make an awkward pass to Joel Lindpere to keep the play alive by side footing a backwards pass while running at full speed. I really like the split second decisions by Marquez in this game to play an effective long ball against a Colorado team that played a much higher line than they should have. The Bulls probably could have scored 3 more goals on the day but Henry missed two good chances, and Richards wasted a great run into the box by keeping the ball and firing straight at Pickens. In any event, the ball popped up and Lindpere runs onto it and gives the faint impression that he might try to strike the ball on the volley. The hesitation freezes Baudet, and it allows Henry to get back into position for the give go. When Thierry receives the ball he has the lightest touch back to Joel just as the defenders start to lunge for the ball. The pass is so quick, you don’t even see it coming until it is too late. Joel gets the ball back and the rest is a training ground exercise. Anthony Wallace was playing much too deep and kept Henry from being offsides, and Henry easily slotted the ball home to the back post. It is a classic Henry goal, and it is good to see him finding his form finally. Henry’s celebration was really touching and I hope Carl Robinson appreciated it.

The second goal mirrored the beauty of the first. It was obviously a play they have worked on in the past, and it caught Colorado completely off their guard. Tchani takes his starting position at the top of the box just under the arch. He makes a deep run to the back post, piggy backing a run by Joel Lindpere. No one picked up Tchani and Lindpere effectively screens Ballouchy out of the play and allows Tchani to reach his destination unmarked. Tchani plays the ball across wonderfully and on a volley. Degree of difficulty is high on this pass, but he manages to make it look effortless. The rest of the play is designed to meet one of three players on the front line across the goal mouth: Albright, Angel and Ream. Angel stands at about the same distance as Albright but a little higher on the six yard box in case the spin carries it away from the goal, and Albright and Ream are positioned as a kind of near post far post option. The ball happened to get through to Ream and caught the Rapids ball watching as he easily redirected it into the back of the net for his first professional goal.

The goal the Bulls gave up earned my applause too. Omar Cummings made a wonderful run before firing home an unstoppable shot from just under 30 yards out. Stunning! Someone should have stepped up on Omar, but the defense has been trained to give up space outside of the box to prevent a pass into the final third. That forces the offense to take shots from deeper positions which is a fine strategy, but occasionally you will get beat by a rocket. It happens infrequently, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

The final goal of the match showed some wonderful and new found patience from Dane Richards. After the throw, Miller poked the ball up field and it almost trickled over the line. Lindpere used his body to keep the only other defender out of the play so that Miller can continue the run up field. After saving the ball, he is wide open. Baudet, who had been closely marking Henry, is left with no choice but to try and pick up Miller. As soon as he started to slide over, Miller sent the ball into Henry. When Henry received the ball the Red Bulls were now on a 3 v 2 rush to goal. Henry made a great choice to send it across to Dane, but the ball was intercepted by Anthony Wallace as Jamie Smith comes running through. Smith is off balance because of the run and it allows Angel to get the slightest touch on the ball and it goes back to Richards who is running into the box. Richards of old would have tried to take the shot immediately and had it miss or get blocked by the defender. Instead, he cuts back and opens up the goal mouth while giving himself time to place the shot. He buries it and the Red Bulls cruise to victory.

I can’t remember a Red Bulls team that has played soccer at this level. Look for yourself. The best goals of the past 4 seasons are available on youtube. The offense is clicking, the tenacity of which has allowed the defense to simply shut down the occasional counter attack and it keeps their focus sharp for 90. Mistakes are still being made on the backline, but much fewer than had been seen early in the season. The best defense can definitely be a good offense.

Next up, RB travel to Frisco to take on still streaking FC Dallas. Marquez may not be available for selection thanks to a nasty tackle from Wells Thompson, and if he is not 100%, I hope they do not start him. This team is in excellent position to make the playoffs, and they do not need to focus on overtaking LA for the supporters shield. Dallas has looked very good lately, but not at all defensively. Hartman has been a beast for them and has made some incredible saves to keep them in games. If Metro can come out as strong as they have been, Dallas will be kissing that unbeaten streak goodbye. The Red Bulls are a strong enough team to do it, but they must force there will on the game to do it. Keep in mind, that this FCD team lost to a much less effective Bulls squad early in the season. Will we see a repeat Thursday? And of course…


Johnny on the spot Retires

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9, 2010 by rbnwhy

Does anyone remember when Freddy Adu scored his first professional goal? It was against Metro in their penultimate season before Red Bull took over. The game started well for home team, but DC took the lead against the run of play. They battled back after the half, with Fabian Taylor scoring the equalizer after coming in for Mike Magee. With the score tied, Amado Guevera sent in a low cross, and John Wolyniec somehow got his head to the ball just before slamming his face on the ground. The goal was probably foolish, but it sums up the kind of player that Woly was. He played with a tremendous amount of heart and would willingly and consistently sacrifice his body for the goal. He will always remain a fan favorite with the club. Woly was one of the hero’s of the Cinderella playoff run of ‘08:
– 2008 playoffs
Woly experienced his best moments just before the end of his career. Metro entered the playoffs limping and only made the post season thanks to DC laying a stinker in the final game of the season against Columbus. The new players brought in by JCO had been colossal busts, and the teams depth looked like it was going to cost the Bulls another early playoff exit. Metro had earned the right to face 2 time reigning champ Houston and expectations were at an all time low. But then something incredible happened. Early in the second half against Houston, Woly was set to receive a throw in from DVDB. It looked like he would trap it with his back to goal, but instead at the last minute, dummied the ball and turned to race to the end line. Before the ball could go out and while it was still bouncing, John sent the ball into the middle where Angel finished the awkward chance. The game ended in a draw when Kei Kamara equalized, but Metro fought and got a good result down in Houston, capped with a wonderful goal from Wolyniec on a great run by Richards that led to the infamous Thriller dance.

Later on, Woly would set up the most important goal in team history. DVDB gets credit for sending Woly and finishing, but Woly did his fair share of hard work on the play. He used his body to shield the defender and then turned to race onto the ball before shooting a hard low shot that Rimando could only parry away.

After hanging on by the skin of their teeth to beat Salt Lake, it was onto the final. Columbus came out flat and nearly conceded a pair of goals, but they managed to keep it scoreless before earning a soft goal from an out of position Danny Cepero. Down 1 at the half, it was Woly again who brought the team back into the game. He is still the only Metro to score in a final of any kind.

Of course, Metro crumbled immediately and lost the game. It was a special time and place for the team, and John Wolyniec will always be remembered as a large part of it. He was never my favorite player, but he will be missed. I hope his experience will lead the next generation of Red Bull stars to many cups in the future.



Real bad loss (RBNY v RSL)

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 by rbnwhy

Salt Lake embarrassed the Red Bulls, despite what the score says. While it was encouraging to see that we could hang in the game only giving up one goal, the distribution was a mess all night. When Metro did string some passes together, it was because RSL had backed off and let them do so. When RSL did want to control possession, they did. The glaring holes on the team were insufficiently filled by our role players, with the exception of Sutton, and they did little to inspire confidence in our depth. Hopefully, we will not be picked to the bone much more this year by the FIFA international dates, but I think there are a few more before the end of the season. Tim Ream is one of many scapegoats this week, but I think that there is another for the dip in form from some of our bench guys.

Before Henry and Marquez joined the team, there was a legitimate competition for some spots on the field. Lindpere, Stammler, Robinson and Tchani were battling for minutes in the middle. Lindpere was able to hold his spot from some wonderful work he has done through the year, but the other spot was up for grabs. This created a healthy competition from the players on the team looking to fill the role, knowing that if they did what they needed to do in practice, they would be rewarded with the start. Now, Marquez has that other spot locked down. It is a credit to his play for sure. His level is so far above those left on the bench, namely Stammler and Robinson, that they know they are never getting into games. That alone will make their form slip. While both of those guys can come off the bench and play for short minutes, neither looks like they should be chosen to go the full 90. The same could be said for Kandji. He is a player without a position, and his form has definitely slipped because of it.

On Saturday, this all became miserably clear in the first half. The Bulls could not string together passes. The midfield escapes the deserved criticism for the backline mistakes most of the time, but they deserve an equal share of the blame. When they turn the ball over consistently in the midfield, the defenders end up on the back heels. Marquez himself was guilty of this against LA, and the Galaxy scored immediately after the turnover. The goal this past week was not from a midfield turnover, but it looked the same. Albright sent the ball out with a poor pass up field. On the ensuing throw in, Morrales laid a ball off to Beckerman that he was able to send towards Espindola on the first touch. It was a smart play and it took advantage of a team that was still finding its legs in a hostile environment. The first fifteen minutes on the road are crucial, and when you give up a goal that early, you rarely ever settle in.

I’m not going to blame any particular player for the overall performance, but the guys who had played well over the last couple of games battled and tried to get the result, but came up just short. Rimando made some very good saves Saturday night, but I didn’t think the shots were well placed, most of them went right at the keeper. While Rimando was brilliant for RSL, Sutton did his part to keep stride. While the first goal was soft, Sutton was in a bad position thanks to Ream. For the rest of the night, Greg made big saves and was the one non-regular player who showed their worth. 1-0 was probably not the score that the game deserved had Greg and Nick not played on their heads, but it kept the game exciting right to the end.
Next week is Colorado, a team that always seems to be able to get a result against RB. I do think it’s fitting that we played in Colorado on July 4th, and they play NY on 9/11. It should be a tough game, but it will be good for the guys to come home and get a result with a full squad, before they hit the road for another brutal stretch of road games at Dallas and LA. The second spot in the East has seemed like a guarantee lately, but they will need to pick up points over the next couple of games to ensure it stays that way. Colorado comes off an impressive performance against a poor Chivas USA side, and will look to keep the momentum going as they try to secure a playoff spot. Should be a tough battle, but with Marquez, Richards and Miller back, things will be looking up. Until next time….


Metro exacts revenge on ‘Quakes (RBNYv SJ)

Posted in Uncategorized on August 29, 2010 by rbnwhy

The Red Bulls played without a doubt, their best game of the season this weekend. The score line might only read 2-0, but the game was dominated from start to finish by a NY team that is starting to click. There were moments in the game where the Bulls held possession for 30 or so passes. In the last 10 minutes of the game, San Jose barely saw the ball at all. While the Earthquakes had some good looks at the goal, they were never able to put in a dangerous shot, and earned the shutout with some ugly finishing from Cornell Glen, the onetime Metro.

Bouna did his best to mind the net, and made some key saves at key moments to make sure RB didn’t let SJ back into the game. Coundoul was helped by another mostly stellar performance of the defense. The one spot that needs improvement is that of the left back. Roy Miller played well offensively, but he turned the ball over while he was far up the field, and as we saw last week, that can put the team in a bad position and lead to coughing up a soft goal. Albright was caught upfield once and it led to one of the Earthquakes best chances, but his shot to the far post curled wide. Mendes and Ream continue to dominate the middle of the field, but they have been fortunate that the wing play has not doomed them so far. Part of the reason is that wing play in the MLS is mostly pretty crappy, but Coundoul has bailed them out of some bad situations as well as some blind luck like on Glen’s shot. Overall though, it was a strong performance from Albright. San Jose rarely successfully attacked down the right side and he was the a big reason why, although it also helped that Richards was a strong threat for the full 90.

Richards was a big part of the Red Bulls offense, and he burned the SJ defense quite a few times. He has now been part of the last 6 goals the Red Bulls have scored, and it all goes back to what I was talking about earlier in the week. He is carrying a lot less of the load, and it frees him up to do more. Plenty of credit needs to go the rest of the midfield. Lindpere is settling in very nicely on the left wing, but he played a bit tentatively last night after his early injury. He did a lot of hardwork during the game, and was on the receiving end of a lot of hard tackles. Tchani and Marquez were their usual strong composed selves, and each of them made some very nice passes in the game. Tchani turned the ball over in some unfortunate spots, but it is all part of his growing process. The important things he does cannot be overshadowed by the rookie mistakes he has made. His first start came against SJ months ago, and the player who has helped anchor the midfield is not the same player that started that game so long ago. Marquez had a tendency towards the end of the first half to give the ball away on some light turnovers after making the SJ defense look like fools a few times early on. It was an example of a player being greedy and looking to more effortlessly play, which isn’t a bad thing. His passing was pinpoint when he did settle down, and he was letting it fly sending some terrific diagonal balls to the wings or playing in the forwards. His work on the other side of the ball was equally impressive. Most of the attacks were forced to come down the left side, and very few were dangerous. The middle of the field has been very stingy to Metro opponents lately, and forcing teams into a one dimensional attack means more clean sheets.

Angel kept himself out of the midfield most of the day, and the result was a more dangerous player who only just missed scoring his 13th of the year when he was denied by the post. Backe said earlier this year, Angel needs to be up top, near the goal to be his most dangerous, and with the improvements in midfield, you can see the truth in that statement. Angel has been a mixed bag this season, but he still has what it takes to put the ball in the net, and if he remains patient at the top of the attack, we will see more goals from him. Henry is in a world all of his own. Any time he touches the ball, the game changes. He is a class above most of the players in this league. He has gotten himself into some jams from holding the ball too long, but most of the time he settles the ball, finds the pass, and moves up the field. It is gorgeous to watch in person.

Coming up next is RSL in Utah, and that is going to be another tough fight. RSL have been invincible at home this season, and Metro has never had an easy time when playing there. The one win that NY took in Salt Lake was the playoff win in 2008. A lot has changed since that game, and RSL has become one of the best teams in the league. Their midfield is fierce and their defending has been stellar. It is going to take all the Bulls have to get a result. This is another test for a team that is finally starting to click, and it will be interesting to see where they will measure up. RSL has been much better at finishing, and if RB gives up chances like they did against SJ, they will be sunk early. All we can do is hope. Until next time….