October 30, 2011
THE FORGOTTEN MAN
Agudelo: good enough for his country, but not good enough for his club
By Michael Lewis
|Juan Agudelo never got off his practice uniform for Sunday's game.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HARRISON, N.J. -- There is no truth to the rumor that soccer fans have put out an APB on U.S. international forward Juan Agudelo.
It only seems that way.
For the second consecutive MLS playoff game, Agudelo did not get off the bench, this time in the Red Bulls' 1-0 Western Conference semifinal loss to the LA Galaxy at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. He also did not play in the 1-0 victory over FC Dallas in the wildcard match on Wednesday.
Agudelo, who turns 19 on Nov. 23, has become the Red Bulls' forgotten man in the post-season. In fact, coach Hans Backe hasn't played the up-and-coming player much over the past month.
It seems that Agudelo is good enough to play for his country, but not for his club.
When Red Bulls coach Hans Backe pulled striker Luke Rodgers off in 80th minute, he replaced him with midfielder Medhi Ballouchy and pushed midfielder Dane Richards to striker.
Backe decided not to use another substitute for the rest of the match, although his team was trailing.
A quick look at the Barnegat, N.J. native playing time since Oct. 1:
* As a substitute for defender Stephen Keel in he 81st minute in the 1-1 tie at Toronto FC on Oct. 1.
* Did not play in the 2-0 win over the LA Galaxy on Oct. 4.
* Replaced Rodgers in the 70th minute of the 2-0 defeat at Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 15.
* Subbed for Rodgers in the 89th minute of the 1-0 playoff-clinching win over the Philadelphia Union on Oct. 20.
* Did not play in the 1-0 victory at FC Dallas on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
* And did not play in the 1-0 home loss to the Galaxy on Sunday.
Asked why he did not use Agudelo in a game in which the Red Bulls were trailing, Backe replied, "I always pick the best team. I play the best players. That's the reason."
That's all Backe would say about his decision-making process.
Agudelo was not available for comment after the game. He had left the locker room before the media could talk to him.