September 18, 2012
MY TWO CENTS
The Red Bullsí Analyst delves into why the Red Bullsí give up so many early goals
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 how the fear of failure plays into the teamís knack for giving up early goals.
Although they remain undefeated at home and in contention for the Supportersí Shield race for best overall record, the Red Bulls are second worst in the league for giving up early goals. Only New England has conceded more, and as a result, the Revolution is out of play-off contention. A similar elimination could hold true for New York unless the team can fix this problem.
The Red Bulls have conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes of a match nine times this season. What is even more alarming, they have gone down a goal in the first eight minutes four times little more than a month! Fortunately for all concerned, the team has found a way to come back into each of those games for either a win or a tie.
Red Herring: Slow Starts.
Fans and commentators alike are puzzled how a team named after an energy drink can be so slow out of the gate, usually to get torched by the opposing side for a quick score. When asked about it, players and coaches shake their heads and simply admit they had another flat start. The problem doesnít lie solely in coach Hans Backeís inability to fire up his team before taking the pitch.
Mental Health Issue: Fear of Failure.
The slow start is merely a clue that distracts from the actual issue, which is really a fear of failure. The Red Bullsí lethargic defense has become the whipping boy for the teamís failings, but each tongue-lashing has cowed them instead of motivating them. Clinical studies have shown that a fear of failure is linked to procrastination behaviors, and the fear of coming up short yet again may be what paralyzes the defense from springing into action at kick-off.
Everybody cringes at an unflattering comparison, but compared to the teamís high-octane attack, the defense is diesel.
Being afraid to make another mistake often causes people to make more errors. (Why are Connor Lade and Markus Holgerson looking at each other?)
A glance at the unfamiliar faces in last yearís back four line-up is enough to make every defender fear for his future with the team.
Therapeutic Intervention: Consistency.
The reason the Red Bullsí defense has been so shaky is partly because the line-up has been a revolving door. Once the team settles on a consistent back four, chemistry and communication will follow. While Backe appears to have chosen starters for left back and both center backs, questions abound as to whether Brandon Barklage should return to his starting role at right back. Given the pressures at the end of the season, his experience may be a crucial factor in selecting him over rookie Connor Lade.
Star forward Thierry Henry gave us all a stark warning: ďI donít know what it is with us, we donít start well in the games and somehow we come back into them every time. But you know you canít do that when playoff time is going to be around.Ē Itís time for the Red Bullsí defense to get over their fears of failure and to shut down those early shots on goal.
(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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