With the roster of past players that New York has had, it’s amazing that they haven’t won almost every single year since their inception. They’ve had Jozy Altidore, Juan Pablo Angel, Michael Bradly, Dwayne De Posario, Alexi Lalas, Tim Howard, Claudio Reyna, and whole host of other players that reads like a future list of hall-of-famers. Yet they still find themselves without the biggest prize that their domestic league has. Will this year be the time for Red Bulls to step up and finally claim what their rosters have almost preordained them for?
With an array of attacking players and midfielders that can assure them goals in every game they play (they have the second best goal scoring record in the league, and the best in their conference), the Red Bulls will be a team that no one will want to see on the opposite end of the pitch when the offseason rolls around. They have some serious star power up front with the biggest striker signing in the league’s history: Thierry Henry. Henry has finally started to live up to his hype, and he is on the shortlist for league MVP this year. He’s scored eleven goals and had four assists with the Red Bulls, and he isn’t the only attacking threat that NY possess.
New York has the striker that most of America has already christened as our future: Juan Agudelo. Now, we’ve all seen what happens when the U.S. start to put too much pressure on one of our young stars (Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore), but Agudelo seems to truly continue improving as he gets older. With Agudelo, Englishman Luke Rodgers, Henry, and Corey Hertzog all capable of putting goals into the back of the net, there is a reason that New York only has four players on their rosters that are considered strikers (the previous four I mentioned).
Their goal differential does belie their defensive woes. They’ve been through about five different goalkeepers since the start of the season, and there is no telling on whether they have decided who their first choice goalkeeper will be once the playoffs start. They also have had serious defensive issues despite some real talent in their defensive rank. Tim Ream has earned several USMNT call-ups and he just can’t seem to keep balls out of the back of the net at the club and international level. Rafa Marquez recently sounded off on his fellow teammates, but he hasn’t really been helping with the defensive side of things either. He was once the captain of the Mexican national team, but he looks to only be a shadow of his former self. They also need to see some serious returns on the player they received in the trade of MVP-candidate Dwayne De Rosario: Dax McCarty. McCarty needs to be the playmaker that Marquez no longer is, and he needs to make sure that Henry and Agudelo get plenty of opportunities on goal.
With only two wins in the last eight games, the Red Bulls will need to make sure that they bring their best when the offseason starts. They also need to make sure that they win their last game against the Chicago Fire. They don’t really have any type of rivalry with the Fire, but beating Chicago would make sure that New York got into the playoffs and would make sure that their fierce rivals (and new home of Dwayne De Rosario) DC United missed out. They are as close to being in the playoffs as any of the remaining hopefuls, but without at least a tie in their final game, anything can happen.
The New York Red Bulls have been advertised as the East Coast version of the L.A. Galaxy, but they haven’t had nearly the same success as the Galaxy. If New York truly wants to get into the equation of most dominant teams in the MLS, they will need to bring home an MLS Cup. They’ve had such amazing amounts of talent in their roster in the past that they may have missed their chance to truly snag a cup, but if they win it this year it could turn everything around.
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