November 15, 2011
MY TWO CENTS
An off-season tweak and overhaul for Bulls
Chris Brandon Whitaker is a Red Bulls fan from Kingston, N.Y.
Red Bulls coach hans Backe and GM Erik Soler have their work cut out for themselves during the off-season.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Chris Brandon Whitaker
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com Editor
After yet another elimination in the conference semi-finals, the eighth time since 2000, the Red Bulls look to rebuild in order to challenge for the MLS Cup once again. At first glance, the starting eleven looks quite strong on paper.
Here is the line-up:
Goalkeeper: Frank Rost
Defenders: Jan Gunnar Solli (right back), Stephen Keel (center back), Tim Ream (center back), Roy Miller (left back)
Midfielders: Dane Richards (right midfield), Teemu Taino (central midfield), Rafa Marquez (central midfield), Joel Lindpere (left midfield)
Forwards: Luke Rodgers, Thierry Henry
Not all of this roster will not carry over into the 2012 season, however.
Rost will most likely return to Germany and, if most peopleís prayers are answered, Marquez will leave or be traded to a Mexican club. Given that both are designated players, this gives the Red Bulls a golden chance to sign another star player. To waste a DP slot on a goalkeeper again would be a mistake. And if the front office is serious about becoming a contender, they will need to acquire an attacking midfielder to make the most of the teamís talented wings and forwards.
While two first team acquisitions doesnít seem too challenging for the off-season, there is more work to be done, in fact. A look at the teamís rarely used substitutes for each position reveals greater problems:
Goalkeeper: Bouna Coudoul
Defenders: Chris Albright, Carlos Mendes, Tyler Lassiter, Michael Jones
Midfielders: Mehdi Ballouchy, Stephane Auvray, Dax McCarty, Brian Nielson
Forwards: Corey Hertzog, Juan Agudelo
Given Coundoulís inconsistent form and poor relations with coach Hans Backe, it looks likely that third stringer Horwath will replace him. Lassiter, Jones, and Hertzog rarely saw the pitch this season and do not look ready to step up and compete at this level. Albright and Nielson are both prone to injury, spending more time in rehabilitation than in practice, and are too pricy to not even make the bench. Being Francophone and inexpensive, Auvray is a candidate to be selected by the Montreal Impact during the expansion draft. This leaves Mendes, McCarty, Ballouchy, and Agudelo, the only substitutes that Backe used with any regularity in 2011.
Most championship teams have depth at every position, and clearly the Red Bulls need an overhaul in this aspect. Hereís hoping they are scouting energetically, because they have rashly traded away most of their MLS SuperDraft picks for the next two years. In short, the Red Bulls need both a tweak and an overhaul of their roster for 2012.
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
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