August 17, 2012
MY TWO CENTS
The Red Bullsí Analyst uncovers the strange cause of why the Red Bulls lose games away from home
Chris Brandon Whitaker writes monthly for The Red Bullsí Analyst: analysis for a team, therapy for fans
by Chris Brandon Whitaker
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
For this monthís session, the Red Bullsí Analyst will address the issue of agoraphobia with regard to the teamís failure to win on the road.
Despite a dominant 8-0-3 undefeated record at home, the New York Red Bulls have struggled on the road with a miserable 4 wins, 7 losses, and 2 ties for their efforts. The drastic disparity puzzles fans and teammates alike, but for a team with aspirations to win the Supportersí Shield for best overall record, the trend has to change.
Although the Red Bulls delivered resounding shutouts in their past two matches at Red Bull Arena, they also fell to humiliating defeats in Houston and Montreal this month. What is even more confounding is their knack for losing away games to opponents much lower the standings. Crushing losses at New England, Chicago, and even in Harrisburg against a third division team in the Open Cup still burn on the red faces of Red Bullsí fans and players alike. (Picture a crowd of people looking like Johnny Toro, but without using red face paint).
Mental Health Issue: Agoraphobia.
A victorious team at home that cannot produce similar results on the road could be suffering from agoraphobia. Defined as an anxiety disorder that involves the fear of being away from home, agoraphobia stems from a dread of being stranded without help. While the fans have turned out in respectable numbers to support the team on the road, the players appear to need my help in overcoming this debilitating phobia. (Did he just call us big chickens?)
Causes: Why the Red Bulls are agoraphobic
Agoraphobia usually develops in response to a frightening or traumatic event, and given the Red Bullsí away record this year, there are ample reasons to be very much afraid of suffering more traumatic defeats.
Another cause can be the fear of having a panic attack in a public place, and any casual fan can vouch for the teamís propensity to have complete meltdowns in the spotlight. Remember the 2011 semifinal match away in LA? Ouch.
Chemical imbalances may contribute to the development of agoraphobia, but given the leagueís stance on banned substances, the players will have to pull this off without the aid of psychotropic drugs.
Heredity is also a factor when diagnosing this disorder, and the MetroStarsí pathetic legacy of being easy road kill for other teams strongly confirms our suspicions.
Therapeutic Interventions: Whatever Sticks to the Wall.
The treatments for agoraphobia range from hypnosis to psychoanalysis, but being that there are only ten weeks left in the season, letís focus on the more short-term therapies:
* Systematic Desensitization helps people to gradually face their fears until they are able to overcome them. If the Red Bulls can tie a few games on the road first, then they can build the confidence to win a few. (Freak-out alert: only four away games left in the season.)
* Behavior Modification can help reduce the fear of being stranded without help, but to do so, coach Hans Backe will need to modify his stingy substitution policy in order to give his beleaguered players some hope for reinforcements during hard-fought games.
* Adlerian Therapy teaches skills to help patients achieve goals. No team can win the Supporterís Shield without winning away games, so here are some key skills the Red Bulls must master: (a) defend as a team to reduce the number of goals allowed; (b) counterattack to put the dumb ball in the back of the net more often! Lesson over.
* Reality Therapy states quite simply this: the Red Bulls will have to play away games in the playoffs, so either start winning on the road or say good-bye to the MLS Cup.
(For a city with more psychotherapists than bartenders and a team with more issues than a magazine stand, the Red Bullsí Analyst offers therapeutic counsel rather than a cure)
"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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