June 27, 2011
Red Bulls are far from finishing from wheeling and dealing
By Michael Lewis
So many questions, so few answers about the latest Red Bulls' blockbuster trade involving Dwayne De Rosario.
Hopefully, Red Bulls general manager and sporting director Erik Soler will answer them on Tuesday prior to the team's Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup match against F.C. New York.
The gut feeling is that Soler and the Red Bulls are under intense pressure from Austria to win the MLS Cup crown. You have to wonder if Soler has been told to do this or else.
When the team added De Ro on April Fools' Day, everyone thought he was the final piece to the puzzle.
Now, the joke is on the Red Bulls and Soler as the Red Bulls have been puzzling since. They had won only once -- against that powerhouse, New England Revolution at home, 2-1, on June 10. The rest of the games have ended up as draws or losses.
De Ro might have experienced problems fitting into the attack, but he hasn't been the main problem on defending free kicks. Of the 22 goals the Red Bulls have allowed this season, 15 -- yes, 15, have been off of dead-ball situations. The Red Bulls, dead beats when they have to defend these set pieces, have kept saying they must defend and focus better. But their actions have been much more feeble than their words.
But back to the De Ro trade.
The other gut feeling is that the Red Bulls are ready to add a high-priced player, their third designated player. They needed to make some more room in their salary cap.
Of course, their offense isn't the problem. It is their defense and goalkeeper, or lackthereof.
Like it or not, Dax McCarty, who was brought in for De Ro, has a reputation he must live down as the Red Bulls became his fourth club in slightly more than seven months. Seven months! Yikes!
Some observers call McCarty's a maturity thing. At the age of 24, a player's maturity should not be an issue. By that age, talented European and South American players have come into their own by that age and not a gypsy, moving from team to team.
There is no doubt that McCarty is a talented player. But all this moving around in such a short period of time has to send a message to him to get his act together -- soon.
One last thing: Ironically, De Ro turned out to be the most reliable penalty-kick taker as the team's two big-time designated players, Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, haven't been able to hit the broad side of a barn on that supposed freebees.
So who will take those PKs? Henry and Marquez? I shudder to think what the reaction will be if they miss even one -- if they dare to take them.
But that's another concern for another time.
For the Red Bulls' sake, let's hope they know what they're doing and have a plan. If the don't and they're doing it by piece meal, it could turn into a very long dreary summer for the team many observers picked to win the MLS Cup.
There's another scenario, which is just as bad, if not worse. Let's say they add a player or two, more proverbial missing pieces to the puzzle and the team still doesn't win.
If you can't win the MLS Cup with three DPs in your lineup, when can you win?