November 9, 2012
MY TWO CENTS
Curtain mercifully falls on the Backe era
Paul Kehoe is a long-time Red Bulls season ticket holder.
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
By Paul Kehoe
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
We have finally seen the curtain come down on the Hans Backe era as coach of the Red Bulls.
During his three years, the Red Bulls have made the playoffs, but the team has left a sour taste of underperformance in the mouth. Gifted with three designated players, Backe often fielded teams that on their best days could be brilliant in attack but that were too often vulnerable on defense and unmotivated or incapable of playing well on the road.
It is the last two items, the brittleness of the Red Bulls defense and the puzzling lack of drive and ambition in certain matches, which have to be laid at the feet of Backe.
And then there is Juan Agudelo and what his departure from the club represented. Early this season, Backe was forced, due to injuries and suspensions, to rely on American players to carry the team. He should receive full credit for giving Ryan Meara his starting opportunity, but players like Brandon Barklage, Connor Lade and Tyler Ruthven were only able to claw their way onto the field because Backe did not have any alternatives.
Backe was never interested in developing younger talent, particularly younger American talent. His inability to nurture and develop Agudelo, a player with enormous talent who could have contributed for a few years at least, was a result of his bias towards older European player. The irony is that the Red Bulls were carried by the American players this year. Kenny Cooper, Dax McCarty, Meara, Luis Robles, Lade, and Barklage were the difference makers for the team. Rafa Marquez, Joel Lindpere (a faithful, hardworking servant to the club), and Jan Gunnar Solli had indifferent seasons. Teemu Tainio missed a big chunk of the season and the Red Bulls lost more games than they won with him on the field.
The Red Bulls also need to make the economically painful decision that Rafa Marquez does not have a future with the club. Despite playing better during his last several matches, the red mist that seems to afflict Marquez on a regular basis descended upon him again at a crucial juncture in the match on Thursday night.
Watching a multiple World Cup and Barcelona veteran pathetically mistime a studs up tackle 80 yards from his goal was one more exasperating moment in three seasons of exasperating moments. It will cost the Red Bulls between $2 and $4 million to get rid of him but it will be worth every dollar.
Finally, Thierry Henry and his failure to take a vital free kick last night. The great Juan Pablo Angel would not have let any teammate within 10 yards of that free kick last night. He would have shouldered the responsibility and would have had the self-belief that he would make the shot. For that matter, Clint Mathis, Amado Guevara, Youri Djourkaeff, the much maligned Lothar Mathaeus, and Tab Ramos, all the Red Bull and Metrostar greats, would have taken that shot. Shame on you Thierry Henry.
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